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Williamson says starting should be fun


Short a starter, Orioles manager Johnny Oates turned to his long reliever for help yesterday.

Oates asked Mark Williamson yesterday if he would be rested enough to start today's game, received an affirmative response, and with that, Williamson was scheduled to make his first start since last May 15 at Detroit. He allowed three runs and lasted 3 2/3 innings that day against the Tigers.

"It'll be fun," Williamson said. "I'll approach it just like I do relieving. I'll go out and warm up just like I'm coming into a ballgame as a long reliever."

That routine worked well enough for Williamson to pitch at least five innings in three appearances this season. He pitched 5 1/3 innings June 19 and 6 1/3 three days later.

He threw 150 pitches -- 75 per appearance -- in that four-day period in June.

Williamson last pitched in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against Cleveland when he went 3 2/3 innings.

"I've gone six innings this year, so there is really no difference except I'll throw pitch one," he said.

Considering the results he has encountered out of the bullpen as compared to as a starter, Williamson is wise to approach today's start as a reliever.

In 350 career relief appearances, Williamson is 45-27 with a 3.73 ERA. He is 1-7 with a 4.59 ERA in 13 career starts.

"It's basically just another game for me," Williamson said. "I've been around. It's not like I'm going to go out there with the idea of trying to stay in the rotation."

Rhodes likely starter Monday

In an indication that he will start Monday's game in Minnesota, Arthur Rhodes came out after pitching two scoreless innings last night for Triple-A Rochester.

He started the game and gave up no hits and one walk in the Red Wings' 4-2 loss at Syracuse.

Anderson sidelined

When Brady Anderson climbed the center-field fence in futile pursuit of Albert Belle's home run in the first game of Thursday night's doubleheader, he injured his shin.

"I'm just a little banged up," said Anderson, who didn't start last night against left-hander Al Leiter. "It's more just a day off than anything."

Anderson, who did get in as a pinch runner in the eighth inning, had missed only 22 innings this year.

In his past 21 games, Anderson has gone 30-for-89 (.337) with eight

stolen bases.

Kind of a drag for Mac

The terrific play Toronto second baseman Roberto Alomar made on Mark McLemore's drag bunt with one out in the ninth inning seemed to epitomize the Orioles' frustration.

McLemore disagreed.

"That had nothing to do with it," he said. "If we had won 10 in a row I'd have done the same thing."

McLemore threw down his helmet and had to be restrained by first base coach Davey Lopes when umpire Durwood Merrill called him out. McLemore appeared to touch first base at the same time as a diving Alomar shoveled the ball into first baseman John Olerud's glove.

"The runner has the best view," said Oates, who came out to argue.

Perfect extension

Orioles advance scout Deacon Jones, who scouted the Minnesota Twins in Texas, stayed an extra day and watched the Rangers' Kenny Rogers pitch a perfect game against the California Angels.

He then flew to Minnesota to scout Kevin Tapani last night. Jones then was scheduled to fly to Boston this morning to scout the Red Sox.

The Orioles are trying to scout as many top starting pitchers as possible before the strike.

A whiff of the past

Sid Fernandez's 10 strikeouts in the second game Thursday was the Orioles' first double-digit strikeout game since Sept. 1, 1993, when Ben McDonald had 10 against the California Angels.

It was Fernandez's first such game since April 20, 1993, when he struck out 14 San Francisco Giants.

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