Orioles ace Mike Mussina threw in the bullpen yesterday for the first time since having his fractured nose reset last Thursday at University of Maryland Medical Center. Eligible to come off the disabled list tomorrow, Mussina probably won't be cleared to pitch until late next week.
"I don't know of a timetable. I haven't talked to anybody yet. I haven't seen a doctor since the surgery," he said.
"I can't tell you when I'm coming off [the DL]. I don't know."
Said manager Ray Miller: "I'm certainly not going to rush him. I want to make sure that he's healthy when I get him back, and hopefully keep him healthy."
The club's rotation remains in tatters. No. 3 starter Jimmy Key went on the disabled list Sunday with inflammation in his left rotator cuff and will be restricted to five innings in his first few starts after returning, Miller said. Key received a cortisone shot yesterday.
And it's uncertain if Scott Kamieniecki, who missed his scheduled turn last night because of stiffness in his neck, will be able to pitch tomorrow.
"His neck is a little better. If he can't go Saturday, I'll probably pitch him Monday [against Seattle] and Saturday will become a bullpen day," Miller said.
The bullpen gets some much-needed help today when Armando Benitez returns from an eight-game suspension imposed after he hit New York's Tino Martinez with a pitch and incited a brawl May 19 at Yankee Stadium. Miller said he will ask Alan Mills to appeal his two-game suspension, which was scheduled to begin once Benitez had completed his sentence.
Randy Johnson's cost key
Assistant general manager Kevin Malone confirmed the club's interest in Seattle left-hander Randy Johnson, who has asked to be traded before becoming a free agent at the end of this season. "But I'm not sure if he's available," Malone said.
Johnson, however, has been mentioned in several trade rumors recently, including possible deals with the Los Angeles Dodgers for Hideo Nomo and the San Diego Padres for Joey Hamilton.
"If he does become available, we'd have to have some interest," Malone said. "We think a front-line starter would really be a significant addition to this pitching staff. If he is available or does become available, we'd be irresponsible if we didn't have interest in Randy Johnson and what he could bring to the team."
But at what cost?
"That's the key. Maybe we don't have what it would take if he was available," Malone said.
"We look at this club and compare it to others, player by player, position by position, and we think we've got as good a club or better than anybody. We just haven't played up to our capabilities. But we would like to add, if we could, or subtract, if need be, to make this a better club. A lot of people seem to be in the panic stage, but I don't really think we're at that point."
Malone also disputed the report that owner Peter Angelos had nixed the proposed trade of Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro to the Mets. "That is inaccurate. Peter's been very supportive. He told us to do what we're supposed to do, be responsible and just keep him informed. That was an inaccurate statement. He did not squash that deal."
Hoiles remains out
Though catcher Chris Hoiles said he has all the feeling back in his right hand, he remained out of the lineup last night for the fifth consecutive game and isn't expected to start tonight.
Hoiles bruised a nerve in the hand Friday night in Oakland after striking it on A. J. Hinch's bat while making a throw to third base. X-rays didn't reveal a break, which Hoiles initially feared, and he has been listed as day-to-day.
Hoiles has made just one appearance since the mishap, after Harold Baines pinch hit for Lenny Webster during Sunday's victory against the Athletics in Oakland. His average remains stuck at .195, its lowest point since April 14.
"I'm fine. Everything's fine," Hoiles said. "I pretty much had all the feeling back since the day I had to go in and play in Oakland."
Last night Miller stuck with Webster, who had three RBIs, because he likes pairing him with pitcher Doug Drabek. He'll probably do the same tonight with Doug Johns on the mound. Johns gave up just one run in seven innings in his previous start with Webster behind the plate.
Reliever Arthur Rhodes has pitched once since May 21, allowing three runs and five hits in two innings of Monday's loss in Seattle. He's bothered by a pulled side muscle, which also cropped up last year during the playoffs, and needs regular treatment on a chronically sore knee.
Rhodes received a cortisone shot while the Orioles were on the West Coast. Miller has tried to give the left-hander two or three days off between appearances.
"And you don't like to throw him three innings or it may be five days," Miller said. "If you get one inning out of him, maybe he can dTC bounce back with one day off.
"It seems like when he over-extends, it becomes a problem. But if it gets better, then perhaps you should think about starting him. In some way, I've got to get more out of him."
Rodriguez goes on DL
Pitcher Nerio Rodriguez has been diagnosed with tendinitis in his right shoulder, and the club voided his option to Triple-A Rochester and placed him on the major-league disabled list.
Rodriguez, who was examined yesterday by Dr. Michael Jacobs, said he had some weakness in his shoulder during his last start in Rochester, but didn't feel pain until pitching for the Orioles in Seattle, where he allowed five runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings.
He said he woke up yesterday and was unable to raise his arm above his head.
Around the horn
The Orioles had been in last place for 10 days. Baines went 1-for-2 against Texas starter Bobby Witt and is 25-for-60 (.417) lifetime against him. Fernando Tatis' homer was his first since Sept. 26.
Pub Date: 5/29/98