Mussina improves, to pitch Sunday Elbow swelling subsides

Key pushed to Monday

April 03, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Not only will right-hander Mike Mussina miss just one start because of a bone spur in his right elbow, but he also apparently will be moving up a day in the rotation. The Orioles said yesterday that Mussina will pitch Sunday in Texas, with left-hander Jimmy Key being pushed back to Monday.

The changes were caused by Mussina's improved condition and Tuesday's postponement. Key would have been working on three days' rest.

There was concern in the organization that Mussina might not be ready by the weekend, but manager Davey Johnson said, "Mike had a great comeback. He has full extension in his elbow. He could probably pitch today."

Mussina was supposed to make his fifth consecutive Opening Day start, but the elbow began to stiffen after Saturday's flight home from Florida and had some minor swelling the next morning. He received treatment, and all the club could do was wait.

"He's had a lot of improvement, and that's not unusual with those things," trainer Richie Bancells said. "All we do is manage the swelling. There's nothing you can do about the bone spur itself. But he feels real good about it."

"I feel about normal," Mussina said. "I can touch my shoulder again, all the things I couldn't do."

The next test will come today, when Mussina throws in the bullpen. "It'll be a couple minutes, whatever I can do. I'll quit before it feels bad," he said.

If Mussina suffers a setback, his place in the rotation would be taken by Mike Johnson, 21.

"Don't put that in the paper. The kid won't be able to sleep for four days," Davey Johnson said, smiling.

"That's the first time I heard anything about it," Mike Johnson said. "The thought never crossed my mind. I knew from what Mike was saying his elbow wasn't that serious. I knew he was going to be ready to go."

Pub Date: 4/03/97

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