Mussina to fly home for memorial He will pitch tonight, then go to Pa. for service for flight victims

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

August 15, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Mike Mussina will leave the Orioles after pitching tonight in Oakland so he can fly home to Montoursville, Pa., to attend a memorial service for the victims of TWA Flight 800.

Mussina was born and still lives in Montoursville. A group of students from Montoursville High School, where Mussina coaches in the off-season, were on the flight that exploded July 17.

Mussina got permission from manager Davey Johnson on Tuesday to leave the team.

"I'm relieved that I'm going," said Mussina, who has the names of the victims written beneath the bill of his cap. "The schedule got moved so it's easy to do it. If I had to pitch Sunday, I don't know if I could've gone."

Johnson said he was pleased that Mussina wanted to attend the ceremonies.

"I think it's great that he's going," Johnson said. "It's not going to interfere with his throwing. He'll throw up there [in Pennsylvania]. He has plenty of guys to catch him. Life goes on. Whatever we can do for loved ones left behind, we have to do it to show them we care."

Life on the bench

Infielder Manny Alexander has gone three weeks without starting.

Alexander replaced Cal Ripken at shortstop for six straight games in mid-July and was ineffective in the field and at the plate. Since then he's returned to the bench, where he spent the first half of the season.

"I'm used to not playing," Alexander said. "I come to the park to play, not to sit on the bench. But I'll do whatever they want me to do. I don't do anything, I just sit on the bench. I don't expect to be in the lineup."

Alexander has just one hit in his last 26 at-bats and has struck out 13 times in that span.

"When you replace Cal, who plays every day and likes to play shortstop, you've got to show what you can do quick," Alexander said. "[Johnson] gave me enough time to show what I can do. He gave me the chance. I let myself down."

A long wait for Corbin

Reliever Archie Corbin picked up his first major-league win on Tuesday in the least glamorous of ways.

Corbin pitched a third of an inning to close out the eighth inning and the Orioles scored three runs in the bottom of the inning for the victory. Corbin nearly had his head taken off by a John Jaha line drive to get the out, but barely got his glove on the ball to knock it down.

Corbin said he wasn't thinking about getting his first big-league win at the time, he was just worried about his personal safety.

"You're not thinking about the win -- not when the ball comes back at your head at 90 mph," Corbin said. "I saw it the whole way. It hit my glove, and when I looked up, [catcher Chris] Hoiles was throwing to first base. You get an out any way you can."

Corbin, 28, spent 11 years in the minor leagues and pitched just two innings in the majors prior to this year with the Kansas City Royals in 1991. That win was a long time coming.

"It wasn't like I thought it would be, but I'll take it," Corbin said.

Rhodes on the mend

Arthur Rhodes, on the disabled list with shoulder problems, said the early stages of his treatment are helping.

Rhodes has pain at the top of his shoulder and has been getting hot and cold treatments and ultrasound. Rhodes said he eventually will build up to weight training, but he will not throw for another three weeks. Rhodes will stay in Baltimore to continue the treatment while the Orioles are in Oakland.

"It's going good so far," Rhodes said. "But it's still too early to notice any real improvement."

No weak link to Myers

Closer Randy Myers disagrees with the Orioles' assessment that the relievers have been a weak spot this year.

"If you look at the Rolaids standings, which includes wins, losses, saves and blown saves, I believe we rank fourth or fifth in baseball," Myers said. "When we start the year and lose our long man [Armando Benitez]. Roger [McDowell] goes down. [Alan] Mills and Rhodes are coming back from shoulder surgery.

"When you look at it from that perspective, we've looked good. Considering all the injuries we've had in the bullpen and all the other stuff, I think it shows the quality of the bullpen we do have."

Smith's status uncertain

The Orioles are not sure of the status of outfielder Mark Smith after his rehabilitation assignment was cut short Tuesday.

Smith is on the DL with a sore leg he injured by fouling a ball off it July 23. He left that game early and has not played since. Smith was to begin a rehab stint in Frederick on Tuesday, but left in the first inning when he could not run out a ball to first base.

Plans for Benitez

Assistant GM Kevin Malone said the Orioles are likely to move Benitez to Double-A Bowie in a few days. Benitez is on the 60-day DL with elbow problems and made his first rehab appearance in a rookie-level game on Tuesday.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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