Mussina, Mills, Rhodes take some cuts, too Pitchers get in swing at batting pravctice

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

June 11, 1996|By BUSTER OLNEY | BUSTER OLNEY,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- The Orioles' hitters who came out for early batting practice finished quickly yesterday, so with some extra time, pitchers Mike Mussina, Alan Mills and Arthur Rhodes ran into the clubhouse, grabbed batting gloves and bats and took some hacks.

"I wanted to get out to the park early today and get in as much time playing as I could before they release me," joked Mussina, hammered in his last start Sunday.

The scouting report: Mussina, a former switch-hitter who batted left-handed against bench coach Andy Etchebarren, is a line-drive hitter out of the Luis Polonia mold -- i.e., no power. Mussina hit a couple that rolled to the warning track.

"Better than my pitching," Mussina said. "I had the least pop of everybody."

Hitting coach Rick Down said Mills showed the most potential, but Mills deferred to Rhodes for the lefty's power -- Rhodes hit a ball into the second deck over right field.

They intend to repeat the workout today, although Mills may have trouble getting a bat. He broke the one he borrowed from Jeff Huson.

More on Cal's next target

Randy Johnson, a special assistant to Detroit general manager Randy Smith, played in Japan in 1987 and 1988 and was the backup to Sachio Kinugasa, who holds the world consecutive-games record of 2,215 games. Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken is expected to tie Kinugasa's record Thursday in Kansas City and break it Friday.

"The amazing thing about him [Kinugasa] is he did all those stupid human drills they have over there, year-round," Johnson said. "The Banzai Drill -- they'd hit ground balls to your right and then to your left, back and forth, until you dropped. He'd do that every year."

But Johnson says that Ripken's streak is more incredible than Kinugasa's, because Ripken is a shortstop and plays nearly every meaningful inning. Kinugasa was a third baseman who often made token appearances.

"Sometimes, he had a separated shoulder and he'd go up there for one at-bat and then come out," Johnson said. "If the other team was throwing a hard-throwing right-hander, he'd come out after one at-bat and I'd go in there.

"Tell you what -- he's just a great guy."

Alomar is old Olivares fan

At least one Oriole wasn't surprised by Omar Olivares' eight shutout innings last night.

"I see Olivares in Puerto Rico all the time, so I know what kind of stuff he has," said Roberto Alomar, who had two of the Orioles' four hits off the young Tigers right-hander. "He's becoming a great pitcher."

Mussina in retrospect

Mussina had 24 hours to reflect on his start Sunday, statistically the worst of his career (nine runs in 3 2/3 innings). "I think I did some things better," Mussina said, "but I did them for just two innings. Then, that one inning [in the fourth], everybody got a hit."

Mussina agreed that pitching staffs, like lineups, can experience contagious slumps; one pitcher goes badly, and the others follow. Since April 17, the Orioles' starters had a cumulative 6.69 ERA going into last night.

"With bullpens, you see one guy get going and then the others get hot," Mussina said. "Same thing with the starts. Look at us at the end of last year [when the Orioles' staff finished on a hot streak]."

Could it be the pressure begins to mount on each successive starter? "It can," Mussina said. "Especially when you're struggling as much as we are."

O's sign another DeCinces

The Orioles signed Tim DeCinces, son of former Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces. Selected in the 17th round by the Orioles, the 22-year-old DeCinces played at UCLA. He is projected as a catcher/third baseman. The Orioles also signed 31st-round selection Jeff Phipps, a right-handed pitcher from San Joaquin Delta Junior College in California.

Around the horn

Mark Smith, upset about being sent down to Triple-A Rochester, reported yesterday and doubled in his first at-bat. "He's a real pro," Red Wings manager Marv Foley said. . . . Greg Blosser, a former No. 1 pick of Boston, has been released by Rochester. . . . Orioles GM Pat Gillick is expected to be in Rochester today. . . . The Tigers are dangling catcher Mark Parent and pitcher John Farrell, but to date, the Orioles have shown no interest. The Orioles tried to make a deal for Farrell in early May, when he was with Cleveland.

Pub Date: 6/11/96

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