Mussina's minor workout for Bowie a major success


The Man faced the boys yesterday at Memorial Stadium.

In the second start of his rehabilitation assignment with the Double-A Bowie Baysox, Mike Mussina showed the arsenal that has made him one of the major leagues' premier young pitchers.

Mussina overpowered the cream of the Eastern League crop, the Harrisburg Senators, for six innings, leading the Baysox to a 3-1 victory before 12,247 fans.

There seems little doubt that Mussina has recovered from the muscle inflammation in his right shoulder and is prepared to return to the Orioles.

He threw 83 pitches, 59 for strikes and three more than originally planned, and was ahead of practically every hitter.

A soft line single by Shane Andrews on a hanging curve with two out in the second inning was the only hit off Mussina, who retired the other 18 Senators he faced and struck out nine.

"I would say off his performance today, he's ready," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said. "You could tell he felt comfortable, unlike in his recent outings with us, when he wasn't 100 percent. He had good stuff and put it where he wanted."

"It's just a matter now of when his turn [with the Orioles] comes up," Bowie manager Don Buford said.

Mussina seemed equally encouraged. "Right now, I'm scheduled to pitch Friday [against the Texas Rangers]," he said, "but it will depend on what Johnny [Oates] does with Ben [McDonald]." McDonald pitched eight innings in yesterday's 1-0 loss was the changeup, but I got a couple of strikes with it.

"I've still got some pain, obviously. I didn't expect to go out there with it totally eliminated. But you can tell when it's good soreness."

Mussina struck out the side in the first inning. One of the victims was Derrick White, who spent some time this season with the Montreal Expos.

"I wasn't looking to establish anything early," Mussina said. "I just wanted to loosen up and make sure this thing [injury] was really behind me."

The only sign of trouble came in the second. Left-handed Randy Wilstead scorched a line drive through the box -- the hardest ball hit against him -- and Mussina ducked and stabbed it for an out.

"They kind of got even on the next one," Mussina said, referring to Andrews' soft shot into left field on a 2-2 pitch. "The guy blooped one in."

"He was painting [the corners] today," Andrews said. "He didn't throw anything over the plate. It was inside, outside, inside all day. That's why he's in the majors."

The Baysox also met a tough customer in left-hander Brian Looney, who shut them out on three hits in Harrisburg 10 days earlier.

But Glenn Murray lost a pop fly hit by Stanton Cameron in the sun,and Edgar Alfonzo scored on the ensuing two-out double in the first inning to give the Baysox and Mussina a 1-0 lead.

In the sixth, with Mussina finished for the day, Jim Wawruck capped the Bowie scoring with a bases-loaded, two-run single against Looney.

In the Baysox's 4-3 loss on Saturday night, Buford pinch hit for Wawruck after he had reached an 0-2 count against left-hander Mike Thomas.

"I talked with him about that,"Buford said. "It was just a feeling, nothing other than that. He understood. Jimmy is definitely a candidate to move up as far as I'm concerned. He runs hard, plays hard, and today he had a big hit and an outstanding catch."

Murray hit his 23rd homer halfway up the left-field bleachers off Rafael Chaves with two out in the ninth to ruin the Bowie shutout.

NOTES: Mussina said he is "tired of hearing about the fight [June 6 brawl with Seattle] and tired of the Cito [Gaston] subject. I just want that behind me." To a recent report that the brawl was the source of the injury, he replied: "The shoulder was already hurting to begin with. I was already having problems with it. That isn't what caused the problem." . . . The Baysox leave this morning for a seven-game road trip with their starting staff stripped by the promotions of Rick Krivda and Brian DuBois to Rochester. With Erik Schullstrom on waivers, only Terry Farrar and Jose Mercedes are left. "We'll have to throw names in a hat," said Buford, who has moved Jim Dedrick into the rotation. Jason Satre was scheduled to return to Bowie, but will stay in Rochester after the release of Mike Bielecki. . . . The Baysox reached an attendance average of 4,000 Saturday night and have a chance to average 4,500 with six home dates remaining.

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