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Exhausted just packing, ailing Mussina is given few more days to recover


SEATTLE -- For the second time this week, Mike Mussina has been scratched from his scheduled start. As a result, the Orioles have had to rearrange their starting rotation for the weekend series in Oakland, just as they were forced to do for the three games here against the Seattle Mariners.

Originally scheduled to pitch the first game of the road trip Monday, Mussina missed his turn because of a stomach virus. He was rescheduled to open the series against the Athletics tomorrow night, but his return has been pushed back at least until Tuesday night, when the Orioles face the California Angels.

Mussina, who last pitched a week ago against the A's in Baltimore, has lost 6 pounds during the illness that hit him at home last weekend. He has been unable to participate in daily workouts, and it was feared he wouldn't be strong enough in time to face Oakland.

"It wouldn't be fair to run him out there without giving him a chance to build up his strength," said manager Johnny Oates. "Right now, he hardly has enough energy to pack.

"He told me he had to rest after spending 15 minutes packing [yesterday]. If he can't do that, we can't run him out there.

"This way, hopefully he'll be able to get a good workout Friday or Saturday and be ready to pitch Tuesday," said Oates. "But there's no guarantee he'll even be ready by then. I hope he is because I don't have anybody else for Tuesday."

Bob Milacki, who was scheduled to work the second game against the A's, will move up a day and pitch in Mussina's place. The switch also means that Jose Mesa, who replaced Mussina, will make a rare start in a normal rotation. The righthander, who wasn't supposed to start again until Tuesday, inherits Milacki's spot on Saturday.

* SITTING ONE OUT: A day after his biggest power explosion as an Oriole, Glenn Davis was not in the starting lineup yesterday. Davis, who had started seven straight games as designated hitter, hit a pair of two-run homers, his second and third of the season, in Tuesday night's 13-8 win over the Mariners.

Oates said Davis didn't play yesterday because of the day game following a night game and to keep him off the artificial surface a third straight day. But the fact Davis apparently is still not completely healed from the pulled muscle below his left armpit was another likely factor. Davis indicated after Tuesday night's game that he wasn't completely healthy, but wouldn't elaborate on the touchy subject.

Davis pinch-hit for Sam Horn against left-handed reliever Russ Swan in the eighth inning yesterday and grounded out on the first pitch.

* LEADING BLAST: Seattle manager Bill Plummer blasted his ace pitcher, Randy Johnson, after the lefthander took himself out of Tuesday night's 13-8 loss to the Orioles.

"He quit on us," Plummer said after a closed-door meeting with his pitcher. Plummer told Johnson he owed his teammates an apology.

"He wants to be a leader, he says he wants to be a leader, but he didn't do it," said Plummer, who used the Orioles' Rick Sutcliffe as an example of what he was talking about.

"Sutcliffe didn't have much, but he gave his team six innings," said Plummer. "That's an example of veteran leadership. That's the kind of leadership we need."

* NO DARLING: The Orioles aren't the only team juggling its rotation this weekend. The A's announced a change that will keep Ron Darling off the mound until the Boston Red Sox visit Oakland early next week.

Mike Moore (5-3, 4.27) will face Milacki (4-2, 4.83) tomorrow night. Joe Slusarski (4-2, 5.13), originally scheduled to pitch Sunday, moves up a day to face Mesa (1-5, 5.15), with Bob Welch (2-3, 3.00) moving into the Sunday slot against Sutcliffe (6-4, 4.88).

Darling (4-2, 4.07) pitched a two-hit shutout in Boston in his last start and is being held back to face the Red Sox, who come into Oakland on Monday.

* AROUND THE HORN: The Orioles are assured of a winning record for the month, the first time since 1985 they will have been over .500 in April and May. They were 10-7 in April and are 14-10 with three games left this month. .

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