4-man rotation may start tomorrow Mussina must recover from 126-pitch game, Wells from tightness in biceps

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

August 02, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Orioles manager Davey Johnson may go with a four-man rotation, starting tomorrow, but only if pitcher Mike Mussina bounces back from his 126-pitch start Wednesday night and tightness in David Wells' left biceps dissipates.

"It's something we're looking at," said Johnson.

Mussina said, "We're on a four-man rotation. That's all I know."

Mussina will throw in the bullpen today, and if he should feel OK, then Rocky Coppinger would start tomorrow against the Indians and Mussina would pitch Sunday, on three days' rest, with Wells pitching Monday.

However, should Mussina feel fatigued, left-hander Rick Krivda would start tomorrow, Coppinger on Sunday and Mussina on Monday.

"It's very tentative," said Johnson.

The manager may be somewhat reluctant, too, to tinker with the rotation just when Wells, Coppinger and Mussina are pitching well. Mussina threw a complete game Wednesday night, breaking his first three-game losing streak with his first complete-game victory since June.

Mussina walked one and struck out nine, the latter figure a season high, and gave up three runs, two earned. He struck out the final four Minnesota hitters. "I thought I threw the ball better than I have been," said Mussina (12-8). "Even though I was getting knocked around, I thought I threw the ball better.

"It's been very frustrating since the break, frustrating the majority of the year. Anytime you get one of these [complete games], it's a positive."

Malone's phone fest ends

Assistant general manager Kevin Malone leaned back in a chair in the Orioles' clubhouse after yesterday's game, relaxed and resting. Well deserved, after the dozens of frenzied phone calls he made and received leading up to the midnight trade deadline Wednesday.

"I think the women working the switchboard [at the team hotel] are wondering if I'm running a home shopping network out of my room," Malone said. "I'd guess that during the course of the day, I made 50 calls. More than that, maybe."

Malone had different phone lines in adjoining rooms of his suite, and if he was talking on one line and the other rang, he'd have to drop one phone and sprint to the other room to grab the other.

"Fortunately," Malone said, "I'm quick."

Making trades after the deadline isn't impossible, but players must clear waivers before they can be swapped.

In other words, if the Orioles wanted to trade Bobby Bonilla, they would have to expose him to waivers, with all teams able to claim him for $20,000. If another team put in a claim on Bonilla, the Orioles could pull him back -- and like most players of value, Bonilla almost certainly would not be able to clear waivers.

Alomar's run-scoring binge

Roberto Alomar cannot recall going through a binge like the one he's currently riding: Alomar has scored 18 runs in the past seven games, including five games of three or more runs. He scored one run yesterday, his 90th of the year. "I've had some leadoff doubles lately," Alomar said, "and that helps. I've hit four homers recently."

Alomar has been robbed of homers twice in the Orioles' past four games. Otherwise, he'd have scored 20 runs in seven games.

Bullpen help on way

Johnson hinted that Arthur Rhodes will be activated today and Roger McDowell tomorrow. When they are activated, pitchers Garrett Stephenson and Keith Shepherd are the most likely to go back to the minors to make room. Releasing Luis Polonia is another possibility, but the Orioles may be reluctant to release one of their two left-handed bench players.

Best trade rumor

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro offered the most interesting trade rumor after Wednesday night's game: "We traded Luis Polonia for the Philly Phanatic."

Indians looked into Wells

Before the trade deadline, the Orioles talked with the Indians about trading Wells for outfielder Jeromy Burnitz and young left-hander Alan Embree.

Cleveland general manager John Hart didn't want to trade Burnitz, and the deal probably wouldn't have squared with the decision of Orioles owner Peter Angelos to keep the team as competitive as possible for the rest of the season.

Miscellaneous

Johnson rested Eddie Murray yesterday, because he felt Murray has been "jumping at the ball a little" while swinging. Murray returns to Cleveland today for the first time since the Indians traded him to the Orioles. . . . Since joining the Orioles, Bonilla has played 164 games, batting .305 (192-for-630) with 22 homers and 113 RBIs. . . . Tony Tarasco is rehabilitating his shoulder in Sarasota, Fla., after surgery, and Johnson says he could be back by September, perhaps to pinch-run and pinch-hit, even if he can't throw.

Hits and misses

On the field: Jeffrey Hammonds made his first start since being recalled from the minors and had a hit in three at-bats, plus a walk. With runners at first and second and nobody out in the fifth, and the Orioles trailing 1-0, Hammonds drove a double into left-center field, driving home the tying run and setting up two more. "He got the big hit," said Orioles manager Davey Johnson.

In the dugout: David Wells had allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings and retired four straight hitters, including the last three on strikes, when Johnson relieved him with the top of the Cleveland batting order coming up. Alan Mills retired the only two hitters he faced, and then Johnson brought in closer Randy Myers to pick up his 20th save.

In the clubhouse: The Orioles begin a four-game series today in Cleveland. "This is a big test for us," said Bobby Bonilla. "This is a really big test. We're in the middle of the road trip from hell. . . . Everybody is relaxed now that we're past the trade deadline, and I think everybody's going to be much better."

Pub Date: 8/02/96

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