KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Right-hander Ben McDonald was due to rejoin the major-league club late last night after making a rehabilitation start for the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings, but he probably will make another minor-league appearance before returning to the Baltimore Orioles rotation.
"No decision has been made yet," manager John Oates said. "It was the recommendation of our minor-league people that he make another start down there, but I want to see him when he gets here and talk to him about it."
Friday night's start did not go well. McDonald struggled with his control and was hit by a line drive, but he probably will be scheduled for a major-league start by the time the Orioles return home from this seven-game trip.
Ripken loses batting lead
Shortstop Cal Ripken went 0-for-3 last night and fell out of the American League batting lead.
Before yesterday's games, Ripken was batting .345, five points ahead of Oakland Athletics designated hitter Harold Baines, but dropped to .341. Baines turned in a 2-for-4 performance that raised his average to .343.
Ripken is in the midst of an 0-for-16 streak, his longest hitless string of the year. He appeared to have ended it at 0-for-13 with a single in his first at-bat Friday night, but the game was rained out.
Relief pitcher Mark Williamson, who was struck on the right forearm by a line drive in Thursday night's game, has told Oates that he's ready to pitch.
"He told me he could pitch last night [Friday]," Oates said, "but I wasn't going to use him unless it was an emergency. I told him if I did get him up, if he had any problems, let me know."
Oates is eager to have one of his most effective relief pitchers back in the bullpen, but he said that Williamson will not pitch if he is experiencing any pain.
"That's how you end up hurting yourself," he said. "You go out there and compensate for a bad wrist and end up hurting your shoulder or something."
Williamson was certain his arm was broken after Kansas City Royals infielder Terry Shumpert drove the ball back at him in the seventh inning of Thursday night's game. But X-rays were negative, and Williamson was able to throw on the sidelines without serious impediment before Friday night's rain-out.
Oates has announced the rotation for the remainder of the trip. After today's doubleheader -- which features Roy Smith in the opener and Jose Mesa in the second game -- Jeff Robinson will pitch the first game in Cleveland, followed by Jeff Ballard and Bob Milacki.
"Depending on how things go in the doubleheader, we'll decide whether Roy or Jose will get an extra day of rest," Oates said.
It would figure to be Mesa, since he will have pitched twice in the span of three days, but Oates said he is not concerned.
"For a power pitcher, that was like a between-start workout," he said.
Switch hitter David Segui was at first base for last night's game, and Randy Milligan got the night off against right-hander Tom Gordon.
"There are a number of factors," Oates said. "I wanted to give Randy a day off on the [artificial] turf because of his ankle, though it's all right. He's just getting his normal treatment.
"I'll start Segui for one of the games tomorrow and Milligan for the other, just to spread it around a little."
Milligan, who is hitless in his past 10 at-bats, has been hobbled by a sore ankle since he collided with Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas in the first game of the exhibition season
The Royals held a Heroes of Baseball old-timers game yesterday, which featured stars from the old Kansas City Athletics and the great Royals clubs. . . . Orioles C Bob Melvin came into last night's game with 10 hits in his previous 21 at-bats (.476).