It's a topic that most ballplayers will discuss ad nauseam, but Mike Devereaux doesn't want to touch it with a 10-foot pole.
The subject is playing time, and although Devereaux got into the starting lineup last night for the first time since going 0-for-4 Tuesday night against Seattle, mum was the word.
"I don't want to talk about it," said Devereaux.
Devereaux's playing time may be a sensitive subject for the rest of the season.
Manager Johnny Oates has developed a rotation of 10 regulars he'll shuttle through the lineup. Cal Ripken, Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson figure to play every day under this system, and the other two outfield positions will be manned by Jeffrey Hammonds, Chris Sabo, Dwight Smith and Devereaux.
Devereaux's single in the second inning off Oakland's Steve Ontiveros was only his second in 17 at-bats and four games since returning from the disabled list July 1, and his batting average is .210
Oates continues to call Devereaux his regular center fielder, and Devereaux figures to start today against Ron Darling in the first-half finale.
"He's my center fielder," said Oates. "It's about time I played my starting center fielder. It's a good time for him to get hot."
Friday's experiment of pitching Mike Mussina on an extra day's rest paid off handsomely, but Oates left open the possibility that Mussina could be used on fewer than his usual four days between starts.
"He may have to pitch on three days rest, depending on what our needs are," said Oates.
Oates gave catcher Chris Hoiles the night off last night, even after he went 2-for-5 with a three-run homer Friday night, because of the heat.
"Catching is demanding physically and even more demanding mentally," said Oates, a former catcher. "Heat like this can sap you real quick. That adrenalin won't help you. [Friday] night he was dragging and that's after two hits and a three-run homer. Imagine what it is is you take an 0-for-4."
Alan Mills earned the win in the 8-7 comeback victory last night, striking out Stan Javier, Geronimo Berroa and Ruben Sierra in the ninth.
Those with good memories will recall that Mills performed similarly April 9 at Camden Yards against the Texas Rangers. Pitching in relief of Mussina in the sixth, the Orioles were leading 3-2 with no one out. Mills struck out Juan Gonzalez, Jose Canseco and Dean Palmer.
Yesterday's "Leo Gomez Baseball Festival" drew 5,000 fans to the BWI Marriott and raised $32,000 for the outreach program of the Spanish Christian Church. . . . Rafael Palmeiro had his 10th three-hit game and his 28 multi-hit game of the year. . . . All seven of Sabo's homers have tied the game or put the Orioles ahead. . . . In his past four home outings, Mark Williamson has allowed only three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings, an ERA of 1.37. . . . For the second straight night, the Orioles broke the scoreless streak of an Oakland starter. Sabo's first-inning homer broke Steve Ontiveros' 24-inning streak, one night after Bobby Witt's 28-inning mark ended.