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Rhodes' injury produces immediate bind


DETROIT -- Things are so bad for the Orioles that nasty omens are showing up before the first pitch.

Arthur Rhodes couldn't make his scheduled start yesterday because he strained his left knee while jogging in the outfield. It is not known whether or not the left-hander will miss another start, but the situation left manager Johnny Oates with the possibility of having to add two pitchers.

"Right now I'm not worried about a starter -- I'll worry about that in five days," said Oates. "I might need somebody to pitch tomorrow [today]."

Because the bullpen has been wiped out by 10 innings of work in the last two days, there would be little relief available for Mike Mussina this afternoon. "I'd like for him [Mussina] to pitch a complete-game shutout, but what happens if he doesn't?" said Oates.

"I'm going to talk to Bos [pitching coach Dick Bosman] and see what starter could come back on short notice, then talk to Roland [general manager Roland Hemond] before deciding what do. We have three [relief] pitchers available, and two of them are left-handed."

Brad Pennington, who got the last out in yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers, and Jim Poole are the available left-handers. Gregg Olson is the lone right-hander with sufficient rest.

Rhodes suffered his injury while loosening before his warm-up. "He said he felt something pop and when he tried to throw, he couldn't push off," said Oates.

"I was feeling fine," said Rhodes, "then when I was taking my sprints it [his knee] started aching. I tried to throw, but it kept bothering me and I told Bos it wasn't going to work out."

Rhodes, who had a similar problem briefly last year, said he didn't know if the injury would cause him to miss another start. "It lasted about a week last year, but I didn't miss a start," he said. "It's like tendinitis under the kneecap. Right now, I don't know, it's day-by-day."

Trainer Richie Bancells couldn't give Oates a much better reading. "His initial report was one to 10 days," said Oates.

That could cause Rhodes to miss as many as two more starts, and healmost certainly would have to be put on the disabled list. If that happens, left-hander Jamie Moyer, who is 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA at Triple-A Rochester, likely would be called up to take Rhodes' place in the rotation.

If Oates decides he has to have a relief pitcher in time for today's game, the most logical candidate is Anthony Telford, who is 2-3 with a 2.40 ERA at Rochester. Telford last pitched Thursday, so he would be available immediately. Moyer pitched Friday night, so he would be on schedule if Rhodes is not ready for his next start Thursday night against the Cleveland Indians.

It's possible the Orioles could bring a pitcher in and decide sometime before today's game whether or not to activate him. And if the guess is that Rhodes will have to be disabled, a reliever could take his place temporarily and then exchange places with a starter later.

The only consolation for the Oates and the Orioles at this point is that Mussina has been the club's most dependable and durable starter. And the way things have been going it's too scary to even think any further ahead.

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