Flanagan tells Mussina to watch body language Pitcher's displeasure had been too obvious

Orioles Notebook

June 16, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Former Orioles left-hander Mike Flanagan went to lunch with Mike Mussina before the right-hander's start Friday, and they talked pitching. But not a word was said about mechanics, keeping the ball down in the strike zone.

"I told him that in his last few starts," Flanagan said, "I didn't like his body language. I know in the game in Seattle he was upset with [the home plate umpire], and he had other trouble [with umpires]. I told him that the other team was feeding off of that."

Mussina took Flanagan's words to heart, virtually ignoring the close ball calls by plate umpire Ted Barrett. "I think [the complaining] detracted from my pitching," Mussina said after he retired the last 13 hitters and shut down the Royals, 6-1. "It doesn't do me any good. . . . I guess I made up my mind that that stuff that was happening before wasn't very good."

Pitching coach Pat Dobson stopped Flanagan yesterday and thanked him for talking to Mussina. "That's the good thing about Dobber," Flanagan said. "He just cares about winning."

New high for Anderson

Brady Anderson hit his 22nd homer Friday night, surpassing his career high of 21, established in 1992. But he didn't have some special sense of achievement.

"Honestly, I hit 20 homers in two months," Anderson said, "and I was pretty sure I was going to get a career high. . . . I don't feel a LTC sense of accomplishment -- I don't want to sit back and think about it, when the season's not even half over. Hopefully, when ** this season is over, I'll be able to look back and feel good. I'm so far away from being able to do that."

Anderson is six homers away from reaching 100 for his career.

Dealing with draftees

The Orioles completed their deal with third-round pick Daren Hooper, who signed for a bonus of $275,000 and some additional money to pay for his college. The Orioles also signed first baseman Francisco Figueroa, their fifth-round pick, and center fielder Todd Morgan, their 32nd round pick.

The Orioles have signed four of their top eight picks in the draft and 14 of 46 overall, and are negotiating with top pick Brian Falkenborg, a right-handed high school pitcher taken in the second round. Falkenborg said yesterday that "things are progressing, I know that. We're moving in the right direction. I'd like to get it over with as soon as possible."

Players taken in the middle of the second round, as Falkenborg was, usually receive bonuses in the range of $350,000.

Last year, the Orioles did not sign their fifth-, sixth-, or seventh-round selections. This year, they've already signed their fifth-rounder and sixth-rounder.

Polonia produces

Luis Polonia had a single, double and triple and drove in a couple of runs in Friday's victory, and while he didn't start against left-hander Chris Haney, Orioles manager Davey Johnson says he made a strong impression. Johnson is looking for somebody to win the left fielder's job.

"It was much needed," Johnson said. "Three of our five outfielders -- [Mike] Devereaux, [Jeffrey] Hammonds and Polonia hadn't been doing too much. Luis basically won that game for us."

Around the horn

When Bobby Bonilla took a called third strike in the eighth inning of Friday's victory, it broke a string of 47 consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout. But that isn't always a good thing. Bonilla can remember once when he was having a good year in Pittsburgh, he called Hall of Fame slugger Willie Stargell to talk. Stargell immediately asked him why he wasn't striking out more, figuring that by making more precise contact, Bonilla was sacrificing power. . . . Kent Mercker, who complained after his start Thursday that Johnson relieved him too quickly, talked with the manager but neither man would discuss their conversation. . . . When Mussina held the Royals to seven hits Friday, it ended a string of eight consecutive games in which the Orioles allowed 10 hits or more. . . . Rafael Palmeiro extended his hitting streak to 13 games. During that time, Palmeiro is batting .397 with 14 runs, six doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs. . . . Jeff Huson, coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery, figures he'll begin his minor-league rehab assignment in the next three or four days.

Pub Date: 6/16/96

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