Though sharp again, Key makes an old point Arm uncertainties keep him pessimistic on return

Orioles Notebook

September 06, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Another successful relief appearance yesterday has not changed the way Jimmy Key feels about the future. Saying he will pitch next season only if his sore left shoulder allows him a "meaningful role," Key said his current job description as a converted reliever does not fit that definition.

Key has made one start and had 10 relief appearances since returning from an inflamed left rotator cuff. Pain in the shoulder prevents him from starting, but he is available in bursts, primarily against left-handed hitters.

"I've been fortunate to get people out. I don't pretend to know what I'm doing," Key said. "I go out and try to be as aggressive as I can be. I've been able to make pretty good pitches for the most part. It's a different mind-set."

Key got two outs in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners yesterday. As a reliever, he is 1-0 and has allowed only three hits, three walks and no runs in 10 innings. Only two of his eight inherited base runners have scored.

"I'm under contract here. I can't do what I was signed to do here, but I want to do what I can to help, whatever it is," Key said. "When I go home, I'll sit down and think about whether I would want to do this. Starting's not an option right now unless I have surgery, and I don't want to do that."

Key has undergone six procedures on his left shoulder. Unless another operation is needed for him to live a normal life, he is opposed to it.

"Right now, I'd say no. Who knows when I get home for a month or two? But right now, I'd say no," Key said.

Mussina-Hoiles holds

Mike Mussina and Chris Hoiles will remain as today's starting battery, according to manager Ray Miller, despite a complicated week for each.

Mussina (12-8) arrived in town from his Montoursville, Pa., home during yesterday's game after spending several days with his wife, Jana, who delivered the couple's first child Thursday night. He left the team Tuesday, but will make tonight's scheduled start.

Hoiles is still feeling the after-effects of Wednesday's punishing game against the Chicago White Sox. During the game, Hoiles was run over by second baseman Ray Durham in a collision at the plate, was hit by a pitch and took several shots to the facemask when White Sox hitters wrapped their bats on swings.

O's break free fall

Three home runs, including a pinch-hit blast by Hoiles, created a six-run fourth inning that pushed the Orioles to a 10-1 win Friday night. The victory ended the club's 10-game losing streak, its longest since 1988.

During the streak, the team never led by more than two runs, batted .203 and hit into 16 double plays, including five in one game, while hitting 19 home runs.

Juan Guzman (9-14) allowed five hits over eight innings to earn the Friday win.

Hoiles' 14th homer was the Orioles' first pinch home run this season.

A throwing error by Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez on Eric Davis' one-out, two-hop grounder led to the two-out uprising and six unearned runs. Lyle Mouton hit his first home run as an Oriole for a 2-0 lead. Cal Ripken followed with a bases-empty shot, his 13th.

Mariners left-hander Paul Spoljaric (4-4) then walked Danny Clyburn and Lenny Webster to reach Rich Becker. Miller shocked Hoiles by pinch-hitting him.

Pub Date: 9/06/98

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