Davis returns to bullpen little stiff, but ready to answer call if needed


SEATTLE -- Orioles righthander Storm Davis, who left Monday's game with stiffness in his right shoulder, was back in the bullpen last night and available to pitch, although he wasn't needed in the Orioles' 13-8 win.

"It's fine," Davis said. "It was a little stiff, but Johnny [Oates] is not concerned and Richie [trainer Richie Bancells] is not concerned, so I'm not concerned."

Davis has appeared in 15 games and leads Orioles relievers with 27 innings pitched, but he said he's still adjusting to his role in the bullpen. He pitched in relief for the Kansas City Royals most of last year, but still has not gotten to the point where he knows what to expect under every set of circumstances.

The shoulder stiffness apparently is a good example.

"I talked to Todd Frohwirth and the other guys about it," Davis said, "to see if it was normal. You throw a lot of pitches down there. I didn't realize how many you throw, most of them behind a wall somewhere where nobody sees you."

There has been speculation Davis will be moved into the starting rotation when lefthanded reliever Jim Poole returns, but Davis insists he is not waiting around for a place in the rotation.

He came to spring training with a place in the rotation seemingly wrapped up if he pitched well, but Jose Mesa was so impressive Davis was forced to move into the bullpen.

Now, when Mesa is showing signs he might not stick, Davis is not campaigning for a job change.

"I thought there might be a chance today [yesterday], and if I could have helped out that way, that's fine," he said. "But most of the time, I only hear about that when I'm out in public. People ask me when I'm going to start again.

"Johnny and I have talked about that recently. I told him the same thing I've been saying all along. I'll be the utility pitcher for him. I'll start if he wants me to and I'll relieve. Even my wife asks me, 'Do you have a preference?' and I say no."

Oates said yesterday that no pitching shuffle is imminent. Mesa remains scheduled to start on Tuesday against California.

* POOLE UPDATE: The reports on Poole's first minor-league rehabilitation outing were positive. He threw two solid innings Monday night and displayed excellent control of his fastball and slider.

Oates said Poole will pitch at least three more times against minor-league competition before the club comes up with a timetable for his return.

"He'll pitch Monday, Thursday and Sunday," Oates said. "We'll in crease his pitch count by 10 each time out. After that, we'll sit down and discuss where he is."

* MUSSINA IMPROVING: Mike Mussina remained at the team hotel again last night, but club officials said he was showing improvement after a three-day bout with a stomach virus.

The club left nothing to chance. Mussina was sent for blood tests yesterday just to confirm the diagnosis. Tests showed only an elevated white cell count, which is normal when there is an infection present in the body.

"Everything is OK," Oates said. "He was eating fruit today and holding it down. He's on the mend."

* THE SEQUEL? Outfielder David Segui had to leave last night's 13-8 Oriole victory in the fourth inning with an upset stomach. It is not known if there is any connection with the stomach virus that has sidelined Mussina.

* SUTCLIFFE MILESTONE: Righthander Rick Sutcliffe recorded his 1,500th career strikeout when he whiffed Seattle third baseman Edgar Martinez in the fourth inning last night.

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