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.

Outfield intrigue continues

It's getting so you can't tell the Orioles outfielders without a medical report.

A delicate situation became even worse last night when left fielder B. J. Surhoff and sometimes right fielder Jerome Walton suffered groin and leg muscle pulls on consecutive at-bats in the seventh inning.

Surhoff, the only Orioles outfielder who began the game without a published injury, pulled up while running out a fly ball and was removed from the game. Though no decision was announced last night, general manager Pat Gillick, manager Davey Johnson and minor-league director Syd Thrift huddled afterward about a possible roster move.

"I've got a feeling B. J. is going to be pretty bad. When you pull up like that, you're usually looking at 10 days to two weeks," Johnson said.

After watching Brady Anderson's pell-mell antics during Monday's return to center field, Johnson was asked before the game if he had concerns over the potential of Anderson reinjuring his left ribs. Predictably, Johnson said he had no concerns whatsoever. He also mentioned the significance of Surhoff being sound.

"I said before the game the only one who's healthy is B. J. and, bam, he goes down. We're just held together with some baling wire out there," said Johnson. "We may have to get someone in here because we're running out of bodies."

Walton followed Surhoff by feeling his leg tighten as he ran out a single. Johnson initially allowed him to remain in the game, but removed him when Walton hobbled to second.

"I should be OK unless something crazy happens before tomorrow," said Walton, held out of Monday's game because of a muscle pull. "This day-to-day [stuff] is getting old."

If Surhoff heads to the disabled list, Tony Tarasco will likely be promoted from Triple-A Rochester.

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.

Pub Date: 4/23/97

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