ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said yesterday he expects Mike Mussina to make his next start on schedule Monday in New York after the team's ace removed himself from Wednesday's game due to what he called "BP elbow." The decision was made after a rush of phone calls between club officials here, team doctors and majority owner Peter Angelos, all of whom were concerned about Mussina's status.
"On a scale of 1 to 10 ... I'd say this is a 1 1/2 ," said Hargrove.
Hargrove defined "BP elbow" - batting practice elbow- simply: "It means he got that from swinging a bat."
The condition is not a new one for Mussina, but its recurrence apparently is less severe than during spring training 1997, when his elbow became tender as a result of batting practice and appearing in exhibitions against National League teams. He later missed his Opening Day start.
All parties insisted yesterday that Mussina removed himself from the game only as a precautionary measure. Mussina referred to his experiencing several "pops" in the elbow during his seven-inning performance, which saw him hand off a 3-2 lead after 91pitches. The Orioles lost the game when reliever Buddy Groom surrendered a two-run homer to Tampa Bay Devil Rays first baseman Fred McGriff in the eighth inning.
Mussina told Hargrove he had "had enough" when he left the field following the seventh inning. Hargrove said yesterday he had no inkling of Mussina experiencing any sensation in the elbow until after he had finished pitching.
"I didn't know until he came out," Hargrove said.
Mussina, who broke a two-game silence after the game, chose not to further discuss his condition yesterday. His name did not appear on the trainer's report, according to Hargrove.
Asked Wednesday if he was reluctant to leave a game with its outcome in doubt, Mussina bristled, "I'm not going out there to pitch nine innings every single game. The game's not that way anymore. I'm not built that way. I want to pitch in August and September. If those thoughts cross my mind when I'm out there and I don't believe in the guys coming behind me and I think I have to do everything myself, in the long run I'm going to end up hurting myself. You just can't do that. I don't expect to do that.
"They have a job to do. I have a job to do."
After struggling to find precision early, Mussina admitted that the start was a difficult one. Hargrove echoed the sentiment afterward, referring to a rugged sixth inning in which Mussina labored to escape with one run allowed and a 3-2 lead.
Bench coach Jeff Newman will sit in the manager's chair tomorrow and Sunday when Hargrove returns to his Ohio home to attend the high school graduation of his son, Andy.
It is neither the first nor the most visible time that Newman has taken over for Hargrove. As Hargrove's third-base coach in Cleveland, Newman stepped in after Hargrove was ejected five pitches into Game 2 of the Indians' 1997 Division Series against the Boston Red Sox for arguing balls and strikes with umpire Joe Brinkman. Moments later, Indians starting pitcher Dwight Gooden also was ejected and Newman was forced to call upon Dave Burba as an emergency.
The Indians rallied to win the game, even the series and eventually won out. They then defeated the Orioles in a six-game ALCS to reach their second World Series in three years.
"Jeff is a good baseball man," said Hargrove. "I think Jeff is definitely capable of handling it."
Newman knows Hargrove and his tendencies extremely well, having served as his third-base coach for eight years in Cleveland before following him to Baltimore. He also served as interim manager with the Oakland A's for 10 games (2-8) after Jackie Moore was fired in 1986.
"Sure, you get excited about it," said Newman. "It's an opportunity, even if it's only for two or three days. You enjoy it."
For Hargrove, the temporary leave is a no-brainer. "I love my job and give my heart and soul to my job but there are certain things as a parent and a father you have to do. That's a very easy decision," said Hargrove, who has taken leave to attend the graduations of all his children.
Maduro stretches out
Reliever Calvin Maduro reported no problems with his recovering right elbow after throwing from about 125 feet for 10 minutes yesterday with assistant trainer Brian Ebel. Maduro has been on the disabled list since May 13 because of a sprained ulna collateral ligament and has yet to throw from a mound since. Maduro was ordered not to throw for two weeks after his injury was diagnosed, and must now rebuild arm strength.
A tentative timetable calls for Maduro to throw again in Montreal tomorrow, then go the mound Monday in New York. If his progress continues, he could begin a rehab assignment shortly after the Orioles return for a nine-game homestand June 9.