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Brown expected to make quick scuffball decision AL president's ruling seen by end of week


MILWAUKEE -- American League president Bobby Brown could make a ruling on the Tim Leary scuffball protest as early as today, according to an official at the league office.

Phyllis Merhige, the league's director of public relations, said Brown likely would rule before the end of the week, though he is not bound by any firm timetable.

The Orioles submitted their case on Monday, the day after Leary hit catcher Chris Hoiles with an alleged illegal pitch and fractured a bone in his right wrist. Brown apparently was in the process of examining the evidence yesterday, and is expected to issue his decision quickly.

If he upholds the protest by manager Johnny Oates, Sunday night's game between the Orioles and New York Yankees would be replayed from the point of the protest, but a successful protest is about as common as a $100 million lottery winner.

The last time a protest was upheld was in July 1983, when the Kansas City Royals won a reversal of the famous "Pine Tar" ruling.

Brown's other option seems just as unlikely. He could discipline Leary for cheating, but the only hard evidence submitted was a collection of baseballs with similar scuff marks on them. Leary was caught by television cameras apparently putting something in his mouth before umpires attempted to search him for a suspected foreign object in his glove, but nothing was found and no action was taken by the umpiring crew.

Tigers sign Dave Johnson

Former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson last night signed a Triple-A contract with the Detroit Tigers.

"This time, he happens to be in the right spot," said Joe Klein, the Tigers vice president of scouting. "We're in a situation where we're going to do some things to help our Toledo club."

Johnson was released by the California organization May 28. He will report to the Mud Hens tomorrow.

Johnson has been staying in shape by pitching in a local unlimited league.

Pitching change

The Brewers have juggled their pitching rotation, moving Ricky Bones into today's start against Orioles right-hander Rick Sutcliffe. The Orioles miss right-hander Chris Bosio, but that may not necessarily be a break.

Bosio is 5-4 with a 4.55 ERA this year. Bones, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Gary Sheffield deal, is 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA. Pretty comparable. But opponents are hitting just .228 against Bones, as opposed to .265 against Bosio.

Against all odds

Oates would bristle if you called him a hunch manager, but he played something of a hunch when he started Mark McLemore at second base last night.

McLemore entered the game with one hit in seven lifetime at-bats against Milwaukee pitcher Bill Wegman. Bill Ripken has six hits in eight lifetime at-bats against the Brewers right-hander.

"This is just one of those days when you look out there and see what's going on and not pay any attention to what the paper [stat sheet] says," Oates said.

The bottom line doesn't help much. Coming into last night's game, the club had a 15-10 record (.600) in games started by McLemore, which is only slightly better than the 26-18 mark (.591) with Ripken in the starting lineup.

Mesa mechanics

Pitching coach Dick Bosman said he was pleased with the progress shown by right-hander Jose Mesa during Tuesday night's series opener at Milwaukee County Stadium.

"His slider was a lot better," Bosman said. "The release point was better. He has been working very hard."

The question, however, is whether he can maintain enough consistency to be a winning pitcher, something that has not been in evidence during the past two seasons.

"You keep hoping that he can," Bosman said. "With that ability, that desire and as hard a worker as he is, you have to feel that he can."

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