Mussina delays start until Friday


Feeling the wear of 133 innings pitched, Orioles ace Mike Mussina has decided to take two extra days' rest before making his next start, which now is scheduled for Friday.

"Some muscles are pretty sore, more sore than usual," Mussina said. "It's not coming back as quickly as I'd like."

The sore muscles are in the shoulder blade area, the same problem area that sidelined Mussina for two stretches last season.

Mussina said his Friday start against the Oakland Athletics is not in jeopardy.

"I'm convinced I'm not going to do anything to myself by pitching," Mussina said. "It's not the kind of injury where I can't throw the ball. There is no discomfort throwing."

Mussina said he went to manager Johnny Oates the day after his Friday night start and informed him he might need an extra day of rest. Since Mussina had only one start remaining before the All-Star break anyway, the decision was made to give him two extra days of rest.

"Mike said he needed an extra day or two and when he says something, it's like E. F. Hutton saying something because he doesn't say anything unless he really needs it," Oates said.

Mussina said he will be available to pitch in the All-Star Game.

Rookie right-hander Mike Oquist will replace Mussina for tomorrow's start against the Mariners.

Griffey not worried

Fear not, the pressure of chasing Roger Maris isn't about to disturb Ken Griffey. At a pre-game news conference yesterday, Griffey said he isn't losing his hair, like Maris did in 1961.

Just the opposite, in fact.

"I'm growing an Afro," Griffey joked. "I'm not cutting it at all. I'm going back to the '70s, when my father had one . . . no, I'm not worried about it. My mother has a full head of hair. My father has a full head of hair."

What about losing sleep?

"They had to wake me up five minutes before a news conference in New York," Griffey said, smiling.

"I'm not going to miss any sleep. The pressure put on you is by yourself. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm not going to worry about it."

Griffey went 0-for-4 yesterday -- his ninth straight game without a home run, matching his longest drought of the season. He broke Babe Ruth's major-league record for home runs by June 30, with 32.

"I'd figured I'd have 30 home runs by the end of the year, not 30 at the All-Star break or more," Griffey said. "It's not really important right now. The important thing is to get my team in a position to win it, or come close."

When would the record matter to him?

"If I had 50 with six weeks to go in the season," Griffey said. "That's when it would become important."

Rhodes demoted to Rochester

To make room for Sid Fernandez on the roster, the Orioles optioned left-hander Arthur Rhodes to Triple-A Rochester yesterday.

Rhodes (1-5, 8.83) made two starts after being called up for his second stint with the Orioles. He allowed seven earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in starts against the Cleveland Indians and California Angels.

Nevertheless, Orioles management sounded upbeat.

"We're all encouraged, he's made some progress," general manager Roland Hemond said. "He's changing speeds, throwing more sliders, throwing more strikes and not just raring back and throwing."

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