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Flanagan, Orioles still playing a waiting game Ailing lefty needs sudden recovery Spring Training


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Nothing is official, but Mike Flanagan's second comeback bid with the Orioles appears to be nearing its end.

The veteran left-hander, who has been slowed by shoulder soreness all spring, did not dress for yesterday's workout and left the training complex before the start of the intrasquad game.

"We've told him to take as much time as he needs," said general manager Roland Hemond. However, with the season less than two weeks away, it appears that Flanagan does not have enough time to be ready by Opening Day.

Flanagan, whose problems developed after he threw in a squad game three weeks ago, has pitched only one inning this exhibition season.

"I've talked to Roland and we're going to wait and see how my arm responds in the next two or three days," said Flanagan. "Then we'll decide on the next course of action, and go from there."

Flanagan, 42, has indicated he didn't think an extended rehabilitation period at Triple-A Rochester would be in anyone's best interest. And, barring a remarkable turnaround within the next week, he won't have enough of an opportunity to make the team.

Having Flanagan work out with the club while serving in an advisory capacity doesn't appear to be an option. "We tried that with Rick [Dempsey] last year, and after a while he became unhappy with it," said Hemond.

Flanagan's position has been made more tenuous by the performances of Jim Poole and Brad Pennington, the leading left-handed relief candidates. Both have thrown well all spring.

Manager Johnny Oates said he couldn't comment on Flanagan's situation. "I'm not sure what's going on," he said. "I haven't talked to Mike in a couple of days."

As far as Flanagan is concerned, there's no rush to make a decision. Although he had a few other inquiries and spring training invitations, he determined that his comeback attempt would either work with the Orioles or not at all.

Two years ago he came into camp under similar circumstances and won a job. But last season, bothered by control problems, he struggled to an 8.05 ERA in 34 innings.

Flanagan was not offered a contract during the off-season, but was a non-roster invitee to camp.

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