Injuries prove pain in Jays' sides, too
TORONTO -- The Orioles aren't the only American League East contender that has taken its lumps during the first month of the 1993 season. The Toronto Blue Jays are trying to dig out from a series of key injuries that could threaten their chances of a successful title defense.
Manager Cito Gaston is having trouble piecing together the rest of the starting rotation for the four-game series that began last night against the Orioles. Injuries to starters Jack Morris, Dave Stewart and Al Leiter have wrecked a pitching staff that only a year ago was the envy of the American League.
Morris is expected to miss his next three starts with an inflamed rotator cuff and Stewart will be out at least another week with a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow. Leiter, who has been out with a blister on his pitching hand, is expected to come off the disabled list on Sunday.
Stewart and Leiter pitched a simulated game before last night's series opener, and both appear to be close to returning to action. That is good news in Stewart's case, since there had been whispers that his injury might be career-threatening.
"It felt great," Stewart said. "I'm real happy with the way things went today. I had good location, I threw a lot of strikes and there was no pain. That's a big plus."
The Blue Jays need him to re-establish himself as a dominating pitcher if they are to return to the top of the standings. Stewart says that's just a matter of getting healthy and staying that way.
"I'm hoping it's healed," he said. "I thought it was healed in zTC spring training. The thing about pitching is, you can make one pitch and blow six weeks of work."
Stewart is expected to work out one more time before a decision is made on whether to have him pitch a minor-league game.
"The doctors said six weeks, and it has been five," he said. "If it was up to me, I'd pitch tomorrow. I threw well enough today to get most major-league hitters out."
Right-hander Mike Mussina's back-to-back shutouts were the first by an Orioles pitcher since Hall of Famer Jim Palmer threw two straight in 1982, but you have to goa lot deeper into the record book to find the last pitcher to record consecutive shutouts against the Minnesota Twins. The last one to do that was Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, who pitched shutouts against Minnesota in games 5 and 7 of the 1965 World Series.
The Orioles' record for consecutive shutouts is three, set by Jack Fisher in 1960 and equaled by Hal Brown in '61, Milt Pappas in '64, Tom Phoebus in '67 and Palmer in '78.
Trade rumor debunked
The trade rumor that apparently created some excitement in Baltimore earlier this week was characterized as ridiculous by Orioles front office officials yesterday.
There was a televised report that the club was close to trading David Segui, Sherman Obando and John O'Donoghue to the San Diego Padres for first baseman Fred McGriff, but assistant general managers Doug Melvin and Frank Robinson both said that there was nothing to it.
Ready to play
The Orioles have signed veteran utility man Randy Ready to a Triple-A Rochester Red Wings contract. Ready, who began his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, spent much of the 1992 season in a reserve role for the Oakland Athletics, hitting .200 in 125 at-bats. He also has played for the Padres and Philadelphia Phillies.
Poole on haircut
Left-hander Jim Poole has an interesting explanation for the strange haircut he got recently.
"I figured that we were making so many stupid mistakes that I'd go out and do something stupid, too. I felt if my head could be the epitome of stupid, it would get it out of our system."
The Orioles are 5-3 since Poole got his haircut.
Catcher Jeff Tackett will make his debut on the big screen today when the motion picture "Dave" opens in movie theaters across the country.
The movie stars Kevin Kline as a guy who is asked to double for the president of the United States. Tackett appears in a scene in which Kline comes to Oriole Park to throw out the first ball.
"Just look for the best-looking guy on the screen," Tackett said. "It'll be me."