O's Take International Pass With Mussina In Mind

Orioles Notebook

Re-signing Ace Bigger To Club Than Irabu, Arrojo

April 23, 1997|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles greeted Tuesday's news of Hideki Irabu's pending trade from the San Diego Padres to the New York Yankees with a shrug. Likewise, they stood on the sidelines as 19 teams wrangled for Cuban right-hander Rolando Arrojo, a pitcher whose credentials do not include a verified age.

While the club says it remains interested in future cases of Cuban defectors and a broadening Japanese market, assistant general manager Kevin Malone maintained last night that re-signing Mike Mussina and cultivating home-grown talent takes precedence over reaches for international talent.

The Padres had demanded the Orioles deal them pitcher Rocky Coppinger, outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and prospects for Irabu, an asking price that strong-armed them from the process.

"We don't care where players come from as long as we get production," Malone said. "And we know what kind of production we can get from Mike Mussina. So we're going to focus on Mike Mussina instead of getting an unproven pitcher."

Despite both sides saying they wouldn't negotiate after Opening Day, the lines of communication between the Orioles and Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, remain open. Mussina is on a one-year, $6.5 million contract. Before the season, he attempted to negotiate a four-year, $28 million deal, including the '97 season.

Anderson `potion' sought

After watching Brady Anderson's pell-mell antics during Monday's return to center field, manager Davey Johnson was predictably asked if he had concerns over the potential of Anderson reinjuring his ribs. Just as predictably, Johnson said he has no concerns whatsoever.

"I don't worry about Brady," Johnson said. "I wish he'd mix some of that potion he has and give it Eric [Davis], [Jeffrey] Hammonds and [Jerome] Walton. He has cracked ribs, appendicitis. I'm sure it could take care of a couple groins and a shoulder strain."

Johnson's plans to employ Davis as an everyday outfielder appear to be jeopardized, not only by his combination of early-season injuries but also by the positive contributions given by Hammonds and Walton.

"I figured if we could get 130, 140 [games] out of him, it would be great," said Johnson. "But he plays so hard. You get banged up playing so hard. He's not against diving for a ball, that's how he got this injury."

Davis quickly proved last night he is dangerous when healthy. He hammered the second pitch he saw from Danny Darwin for his first homer of the season, breaking a 1-for-16 skid.

Riding a 7-for-7 wave, Walton rejoined the lineup last night as DH after missing Monday's game with a sore leg. His string of reaching base in eight consecutive plate appearances ended when he grounded out in the first inning.

But his injury streak also continued as he left after appearing to reinjure his groin on a one-out single in the seventh inning. Left fielder B. J. Surhoff left on the play before, pulling a groin muscle running to first on a flyout.

Rusty Orosco gets busy

Reliever Jesse Orosco reported some minor stiffness in his left arm after pitching Monday for the first time in 12 days. But it was a good kind of pain.

Orosco, who turned 40 on Monday, was happy to get in some meaningful work. Not having pitched since April 9, he walked two batters in his one inning of a 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

"I was slightly rusty, but I've been throwing the ball down in the bullpen," he said. "When I went out there, I tried to rush a couple and dropped my arm. That was just a lack of concentration.

"I need to get in. Davey said, `I'm going to get you in as soon as I can,' and it worked out."

He only threw one pitch last night, but it was a big one. With two on and two out in the eighth, he got Chris Snopek to pop out.

Around the horn

Coppin State's men's basketball team was honored before the game and coach Fang Mitchell threw out the first pitch. Left-hander Jimmy Key, who celebrated his 36th birthday yesterday, will receive the Sington Award as Alabama's Professional Male Athlete of the Year. The weather hasn't been kind to a lot of teams, and the White Sox are no exception. Before last night, they had played 16 outdoor games, with an average temperature of 48.8 degrees.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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