For Mills, all's well that will start well tonight


TORONTO -- Right-hander Alan Mills will make his second start of the season tonight when he faces veteran Jack Morris in the second game of the four-game series at SkyDome. He didn't want to say much about the assignment yesterday, but he had to admit he could not have written a better script for his 1992 season.

"I was telling my friends last winter that I thought I would be traded," he said. "It couldn't have turned out better. I love Baltimore. I love playing there. Our park is the best in the league."

Tonight will not be his first appearance in Toronto's stadium of the future. He appeared here as a member of the New York Yankees, but he has never played in a game as significant as the one he will start tonight.

Mills appears to have adapted well to working out of the bullpen between spot starts. In his other start, he worked five innings and gave up two runs on seven hits in Boston. He is 7-2 with a 1.84 ERA in 23 relief appearances.

"I think starting is different than setting up or closing," he said, "but it's closely related to long relieving. Once you start pitching to a guy for the second or third time, you can't expect to get him out with the same things."

Sutcliffe on series

Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe will not pitch in the four-game series against the Blue Jays, though not by design. His place in the rotation came up on Sunday, so he will not pitch again until Friday night's series opener against the Kansas City Royals at Royals Stadium.

"It's disappointing," Sutcliffe said, "but the first game in Kansas City is just as important as each game here in Toronto. You want to pitch in this kind of series. You want to be a part of it. My part is to get out the pompons."

Sutcliffe does not have fond memories of his only appearance at SkyDome. He was knocked around by the Blue Jays in his second start of the season. The Orioles were swept in that series, but Sutcliffe says that this week should be different.

"I'm not pitching, for one thing," he said. "That's going to help."

Williamson close

Reliever Mark Williamson is close to returning to the major-league roster, though the Orioles will have trouble finding a place to put him.

He has nine days remaining on his 30-day injury rehabilitation assignment, after which the club must restore him to the active roster or find some way to stall until the roster limit rises to 40 Sept. 1.

"He could probably be used now," manager Johnny Oates said, "but we've got to wait until we've got a roster spot. We may go with 11 pitchers for 10 days or we could option him for 10 days until Sept. 1."

There is one other option. The club could trade Williamson to a team in need of relief, but ideally would like to have him pitching effectively again at the major-league level. Not many clubs are going to give up anything of value for someone who underwent elbow surgery so recently.

Hoiles a week away

Oates said yesterday that catcher Chris Hoiles could be activated in time for the next home series at Camden Yards.

Hoiles will join the Double-A Hagerstown Suns in New Britain, Conn., today to begin a short injury rehabilitation assignment. If all goes well, Hoiles would be back for Tuesday's series opener against the Seattle Mariners.

He has been out of action since a pitch from New York Yankees pitcher Tim Leary fractured his right wrist, but he has been taking batting practice for the past six days. Oates said he expects Hoiles to appear in three or four minor-league games before he rejoins the major-league club.

Stieb on DL

Blue Jays right-hander Dave Stieb underwent X-rays to determine the cause of persistent soreness in his right elbow. He was placed on the disabled list and replaced on the roster by Mike Timlin, called up from the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. Rookie reliever Doug Linton will take Stieb's place in the rotation for Thursday's series finale.

Orioles sign Martinez

The Orioles have signed undrafted second baseman Jecen Martinez, the son of former Orioles reliever Tippy Martinez. The 22-year-old infielder, who played at Towson State, has been assigned to the club's short-season Single-A minor-league team at Kane County, Ill.

Bits and pieces

Brady Anderson stole his 39th base of the year in the fifth inning and has now stolen 11 in a row. . . . Cal Ripken's sacrifice fly in the third inning was his seventh, tying him with Mike Devereaux for the team lead. . . . The Orioles failed to hit a home run for the sixth straight game, their longest homerless streak of the season. . . . David Segui had his first pinch hit of the year in the ninth inning. . . . Dave Winfield's two extra-base hits gave him 995 for his career and tied him for 20th place on the all-time list with Al Simmons.

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