Milacki's bullpen success earns him his first...


Milacki's bullpen success earns him his first start

Bob Milacki, who has excelled in relief since starting the season in the minor leagues, will make his first start Monday night in Detroit.

Manager Frank Robinson decided to insert Milacki into the Baltimore Orioles rotation just before last night's game against the California Angels.

Robinson had stuck with a four-man rotation for two weeks during a schedule dotted with three days off.

"I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, that I'd start when there was an opening," said Milacki. "This is where I wanted to be."

Milacki has been pitching primarily in long relief since rejoining the Orioles on April 26 from the Class AA Hagerstown Suns, where he was 3-0.

He has allowed only three runs in 16 innings (1.69 ERA), and right-handed hitters have batted .179 against him. In three of his JTC four appearances, he worked more than four innings.

"I'm starting to feel like myself again," said Milacki. "I think I'm ready for a start. I'm excited."

In his career against the Tigers, Milacki is 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA and has permitted only 36 hits in 65 2/3 innings.

"That might have been a factor, but I like to think otherwise," he said. "I think it's more the success I had up here."

Horn slightly injured

After originally being included in last night's lineup, Sam Horn was scratched because of a slight strain of his left hamstring.

"I'm fine," said Horn. "You see I was in there. I'm just afraid to try to run too hard because I don't know to what extent I can do it."

Robinson placed Joe Orsulak in the cleanup spot, where Horn had been, and moved Jeff McKnight into the sixth position as the designated hitter.

"There's no use taking chances," said the manager. "We'll give him today and tomorrow with the left-hander [Chuck Finley] going and then bring him back and see what he can do [tomorrow]. But he's available to pinch-hit."

Robinson said he put Horn in the lineup as "a reflex type thing" before checking with him. "Then he told me he aggravated the hamstring."

Horn said he was hurt while running from second base "in the soft ground" Wednesday night on a fly ball hit by Bill Ripken with two out.

Johnson still laboring

Dave Johnson has shifted from the starting rotation to the bullpen, but the results haven't changed.

"I wish I could say my arm was bothering me," said Johnson, "but I feel great. I'm just struggling, the longest I've ever struggled."

In four relief appearances, Johnson has a 7.88 ERA and has allowed 14 hits and seven earned runs in eight innings.

He has been bypassed for the fifth spot in the rotation, where he spent April with little success.

"I don't think there is anything I can do differently," said Johnson. "Sooner or later the ground balls aren't going to be hits, and the bloops won't fall.

"I'm still attacking the hitters, throwing it over the plate. I haven't shied away from my game. It just hasn't worked out. The one rain-delay game in Chicago really blew me out of the water."

Johnson waited out a two-hour delay in that game and wound up allowing eight hits and nine runs (eight earned) in four innings.

"I guess there was a chance I'd get this next start, but Bob Milacki has thrown the ball well and deserves it," he said.

Hemond talks with other clubs

The Orioles may be on the brink of a roster move.

General manager Roland Hemond confirmed after the game that he his talking with several clubs about a deal but said nothing has been completed.

"A couple of conversations popped up that are delaying anything at this time," he said. "But there is always a possibility something will happen. It's hard to tell when. We're talking to some clubs."


HTS will televise the June 2 game against Boston from Fenway Park. The telecast replaces Wednesday's Oakland Athletics game, which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and was pre-empted by coverage of the Stanley Cup finals. . . . Veteran catcher Ernie Whitt was in the lineup for the second straight game because "he is swinging the bat so well," said Robinson. "We're looking for clues to any type of offense.". . . . The players held a meeting before the game, but team player representative Jeff Ballard said baseball wasn't on the agenda. "It was just a bunch of business stuff," said Ballard. . . . Cal Ripken's .351 average entering last night was the highest by an Oriole this far into the season since 1981, when Ken Singleton was batting .354 on June 4. . . . The Orioles will hold a free clinic today at 10:30 a.m. at Dallastown Community Field in York, Pa. It is open to youngsters ages 6 to 13. Participants should bring their own gloves. . . . All fans 15 and older will receive seat cushions at tomorrow's game. It is the first such giveaway since 1985.

One of those nights

Orioles management was ready to chalk up Jose Mesa's first poor start Thursday night to the law of averages.

"It just didn't seem like he ever got loose," said pitching coach Al Jackson. "I don't know a pitcher yet who hasn't gone through a game like that."

"I didn't see anything wrong with him," said Robinson. "He just couldn't get anything over the plate."

Mesa, the team's most consistent starter, lasted only 1 1/3 innings and allowed five runs against Oakland.

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