Miller lobbied for Pickering after Will Clark was injured April 18. However, Pickering sustained a shoulder injury the previous day and was not deemed at full strength until last weekend.
"He hit a home run to tie the game a few days ago and hit two balls hard yesterday," Miller said.
Pickering had a less than auspicious debut, going 1-for-4 with three errors last night.
A corresponding roster move will take place today. A leading possibility is infielder Jesse Garcia's return to Triple-A Rochester.
Clark to be re-examined
Clark's fractured left thumb will be re-examined by a specialist today in hopes of receiving a target date for resuming batting practice and ultimately for leaving the disabled list.
Clark, hitting .370 at the time of the injury, has lent his presence to the clubhouse this homestand, but has not participated in any drills. Originally projected to miss four to five weeks, Clark may target the Orioles' return from an upcoming 10-game road trip for his return.
The best question during the pre-game news conference came from former Sun writer Tom Keegan, who wanted to know if Cuba manager Alfonso Urquiola feared losing a player forever who happened to chase a foul ball into the Orioles' dugout.
It's hard to get laughs when the subject is defections, but the three Cuban players at the podium -- Linares, outfielder Luis Ulacia and second baseman Antonio Pacheco -- chuckled as the question was translated to Urquiola.
"We're not concerned about it," he said. "We let them play freely on the field. We have no fear. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here."
Keegan, a columnist with the New York Post, also wanted to know what B. J. Surhoff would do if a Cuban player came into the Orioles' clubhouse expressing his desire to be free.
"I think anybody would be sympathetic, but I'm not sure you'd know what to do in that situation," Surhoff said.
The men in blue
Once again major-league umpires weren't invited to take part in the historic international competition. A lingering debate over compensation between the umpires union and Major League Baseball brought about a six-man mix of NCAA and Cuban umps last night.
Cuban umpire Nelson Diaz handled the plate, just as he did in Havana six weeks earlier. NCAA supervisor of umpires Dave Yeast worked first base; Valdez had second base; Big Ten and Mid-American Conference arbiter Rich Fetchiet worked third base; Pac-10 and Western Athletic Conference ump Gus Rodriguez had the left-field line; and Cuban umpire Omar Lucero patrolled the right-field line. Yeast, Fetchiet and Diaz also worked the Atlanta Olympics.
"To me, this is the biggest honor of all," said Diaz, considered Cuba's top umpire. "In the Olympics there is great pressure and great prestige. But this is something that hasn't happened in 40 years. This is something historic."
The Cuban umpires were among the entourage that arrived Sunday night from Havana. The three college umpires also arrived late Sunday or early yesterday. Pay was equal for both nationalities as the American umpires received free transportation and expenses.
Pub Date: 5/04/99