Mussina set to start Saturday vs. Braves Ace assures O's he's ready after 15-minute side session

Orioles Notebook

June 04, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

BOSTON -- After an uneventful 15-minute side session yesterday, Mike Mussina gave the Orioles a final assurance that he is ready to leave the disabled list and will start Saturday against the Atlanta Braves at Camden Yards.

"Everyone has seen what they needed to see," said pitching coach Mike Flanagan, who supervised the workout. "It was a normal side session."

Mussina was satisfied with the action of his pitches, though he noted that it is impossible to simulate game conditions in a bullpen.

Mussina has not thrown to a hitter since May 14, when he broke his nose and suffered a laceration above his right eye after Cleveland's Sandy Alomar lined a shot off his face.

The Orioles are satisfied with everything they have seen so far from Mussina but remain quietly concerned about how he'll react to again facing batters.

Mussina said he still feels pressure on the right side of his face when he makes sudden movements or jars himself. For that reason, he has chosen to ride a stationary bicycle rather than participate in the pitchers' running.

The schedule also spares Mussina any immediate hitting chores despite the advent of interleague play. The designated hitter will be in force this weekend against the Braves and Mussina will not start in Philadelphia next week.

The outlook remains less clear regarding Scott Kamieniecki, who has not thrown since going on the disabled list May 23 with a muscle strain on the right side of his neck.

Flanagan says he won't approach Kamieniecki about throwing until he receives clearance from trainers. Should Kamieniecki still have not thrown by June 11 -- a span of 20 days -- Flanagan will consider the condition more severe.

Manager Ray Miller said yesterday that he'd prefer to send Kamieniecki on a minor-league rehab outing, but he does not enjoy such a luxury because of the team's shortage of arms. Instead, Kamieniecki likely will work in long relief before re-entering the rotation.

Barring a trade, Doug Johns and Sidney Ponson will remain in the Orioles' rotation for at least the next 10 days.

"If everything was perfect, you'd have Johns and Ponson out there on an every-other-day basis," Miller said. "In the last two or three days I haven't done much [bullpen] matchups regardless of who it is. If someone's throwing well, they're in there. I don't have those options."

Bordick down, not out

The Orioles don't plan to use shortstop Mike Bordick on this two-day trip to Boston but are optimistic about his return for this weekend's three-game homestand against the Braves.

Bordick compounded a sprained left foot when he suffered an ankle sprain Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

The club had pondered promoting P. J. Forbes from Triple-A Rochester but reconsidered when Bordick's ankle showed minimal swelling. Bordick originally was listed as out for three to five days. However, Miller updated the projection to three days.

Jeff Reboulet started in Bordick's place last night and played a fourth consecutive game for the second time this season.

Miller said that the good news from Bordick minimizes the chance of Cal Ripken making a cameo return to the position. On Monday, Miller mulled the move, which would also have necessitated moving B. J. Surhoff from left field to third base.

O's in hunt for Nomo

Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Fred Claire said there are four front-runners in the hunt for right-hander Hideo Nomo, whom the Orioles are pursuing in a trade.

"We're continuing the process," Claire said. "There are four clubs at the top. I'm not going to name names or teams."

An unnamed Dodgers official, however, confirmed that the Orioles were one of the four teams.

The Dodgers designated Nomo for assignment Monday, obligating the team to trade or release the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year within 10 days.

Return of Rhodes

Left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes was examined in Baltimore yesterday then took a 1: 30 afternoon flight to Boston. Doctors gave him a clean bill of health and Miller used him to save last night's 3-0 victory. Rhodes pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief of Johns, allowing one hit and striking out three.

Rhodes took a shot to the upper abdomen and suffered a contusion Tuesday when Ken Griffey sent a line drive through the box.

Around the horn

Tickets are scarce for this weekend's series. Only 1,600 are left for tomorrow night and scattered singles remain for Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The Braves will send Arundel High product Denny Neagle, Kevin Millwood and Greg Maddux against Scott Erickson, Mussina and Doug Drabek, respectively. Right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds sat for a third straight game last night because of muscle spasms in his back.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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