O's resist urge to move up Mussina's return Side session goes well, but Saturday target date

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Anderson, Alomar rested

June 01, 1998|By Joe Strauss and Bill Free | Joe Strauss and Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Mike Mussina gave the Orioles a little reassurance when he completed a 15-minute side session before yesterday's game. Pitching coach Mike Flanagan was pleased. Manager Ray Miller was pleased. However, the club apparently will resist the temptation to have Mussina start Thursday night against Boston, instead keeping him slotted for next Saturday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves.

"He could probably move up a couple days, but we don't want to take a chance on anything," Miller said, alluding to lingering pressure Mussina feels on the right side of his face, especially when running.

One of three starting pitchers currently unavailable, Mussina has been on the disabled list since May 18, four days after he sustained a broken nose and facial lacerations from a line drive that struck him above the right eye.

Next Saturday Mussina would take the spot in the rotation occupied tonight by call-up Richie Lewis. Scott Kamieniecki, put on the disabled list Saturday retroactive to May 23, can come off June 8. "Until then, there's nothing else we can really do," said Miller, at a loss yesterday to name Thursday's starter.

Alomar, Anderson sit

The Texas Rangers found a way to stop Roberto Alomar and Brady Anderson: have Miller use his eraser. Citing a day game after a night game and yesterday's stifling heat, Miller sat his two hottest hitters against left-hander Darren Oliver.

Anderson entered yesterday having hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games with an at-bat. Included is a five-game hitting streak that featured six extra-base hits during a 7-for-20 run.

Alomar sat on a six-game hitting streak that had seen him go 12-for-23 (.579) with seven runs and three stolen bases. Saturday ended a monthlong stretch in which the second baseman had hit in 23 of 28 games for a .352 average.

"I came in at midnight last night and both of those guys were packed in ice," Miller said. "I felt that wasn't a good sign so I decided to give them a day's rest. Brady said this is the first time he's ever been locked in swinging the bat good and still felt terrible. It's been awfully hot out there the last couple days."

Alomar was hitting a career .300 (3-for-10) against Oliver. Anderson carried a .231 average (3-for-13) with a home run.

Alomar entered the game as a pinch hitter for Jeff Reboulet in the sixth inning with runners at first and second and none out. He struck out on a 3-2 pitch against Tim Crabtree.

Anderson pinch hit for Mike Bordick in the ninth inning and flied out to right.

Again pitching in

Miller says he can't remember a time since 1983 that he has seen a club make so many transactions involving pitchers in such a condensed period. Saturday's move to place Kamieniecki on the disabled list was the eighth involving the staff since May 3. It also was the 11th this season involving a pitcher.

The promotion of Lewis, who starts tonight against Seattle, brings to 16 the number of pitchers the Orioles have employed through 55 games. After breaking camp with 12 pitchers, they used 17 all last season. The five pitchers summoned after the season began made a combined 37 appearances.

"Around June every year is when you usually see teams having trouble with pitching, injuries and other things," said Miller, currently without 60 percent of his starting rotation.

Lewis becomes the Orioles' 10th starter used tonight. "It's so hot. If this keeps up, you're going to see some ugly, ugly games," Miller said. "We've been one pitcher short all year and the suspensions [of Armando Benitez and Alan Mills] left us two short. We have to pitch better. We've got a tough schedule coming up in June."

Stuffing the ballot box?

Don't get too excited about five Rangers leading the current American League All-Star voting at their positions.

Don't expect to see catcher Ivan Rodriguez, outfielders Juan Gonzalez and Rusty Greer, first baseman Will Clark and second baseman Mark McLemore all starting in the 69th All-Star Game July 7 at Coors Field in Denver.

The early returns are just that and not too significant, Phyllis Merhige of the AL office said.

"It's too early to call," Merhige said before the weekend. "The votes now depend on who's been playing at home and who's turning their ballots in first. Texas obviously had a lot of home games [eight in nine games before the Orioles series] lately."

Sick shift

Bill Swift was originally scheduled to start for Seattle tonight against the Orioles, but he switched places with Jeff Fassero when Fassero fell ill yesterday.

The Orioles reached the left-handed Fassero for seven hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings Tuesday.

His opponent, Lewis, 32, makes his first appearance for the Orioles since 1992. The right-hander was 1-2 with a 3.73 ERA in seven starts at Rochester. He was 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA in two Orioles starts in '92.

Around the horn

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