Poole's pain pushes back return timetable


Orioles reliever Jim Poole has had a slight setback in his recovery, manager Johnny Oates said yesterday.

"Whenever he says he's ready, he'll be ready," said Oates.

What's a sellout?

Though last night's game was officially called a sellout by the Orioles, the paid attendance of 41,358 was the smallest in the nine-game history of Oriole Park.

The discrepancy comes from the number of complimentary tickets distributed by the team for the first of six "Fantastic Fans Night" promotions this season.

Making a pitch

A check of the numbers shows just how far Orioles pitching has come this season.

Before last night's game, the team's ERA was 2.96, the second-lowest mark in the American League. That's the best team ERA during the first 22 games of the season since 1986, when the team pitched to a 3.78 ERA.

The starters have gone longer than in the recent past. The six complete games thrown by the staff is the most this early since 1982, when the starters threw six complete games in 21 games.

Last year, the pitching staff didn't get its sixth complete game until the 137th game.

In addition, the bullpen has the lowest ERA in the American League, yielding 11 earned runs in 45 1/3 innings for an ERA of 2.18.


Keeping it trimmed

Yesterday was the first warm weekend day in a while, so, like more than a few homeowners in the area, the Camden Yards grounds crew got to mow the lawn.

Oates said the crew cut the infield and outfield grass about a half-inch.

The manager said the grass, which had been one of the thickest in baseball, had been cut at the Orioles' players request, not his.

"I don't know why we want to cut it anyway, as long as we're winning," said Oates. "The next thing we do is play with a skin infield."

On the subject of horticulture, Oates proudly announced that the grass and azaleas are growing in his own personal garden.

"For 10 years, I couldn't cut grass. I got hay out there now. I just don't have a green thumb," said Oates.



Oates gave 1B-DH Randy Milligan the night off last night, but said he would start at first today in the series finale against Seattle. Milligan, who suffered a concussion after a collision with Bill Ripken in Kansas City last week and missed six games, hasn't played the field since. . . . Jeff Tackett is scheduled to get his third start of the year today, spelling Chris Hoiles behind the plate. . . . Friday's 15-1 drubbing was the third-worst loss in Seattle history. . . . Going into last night's gmae, the Seattle starter, Erik Hanson, had a career 4-0 mark against the Orioles and an overall 4.54 ERA. . . . Seattle infielders have hit 11 home runs. But there are five by Mariners outfielders, who include former National League homer champ Kevin Mitchell and Ken Griffey Jr., who has 60 homers over the past three seasons. . . . Brady Anderson, who was caught stealing third in the first inning last night, had stolen eight straight.

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