Given choice, Mussina decides to face Brewers Johnson, Dobson open to Tuesday in Fenway, too


The Orioles gave Mike Mussina the option of starting either tomorrow against Milwaukee or Tuesday at Boston and the right-hander will be facing the Brewers tomorrow at Camden Yards.

"They asked me if I would be able to pitch on Monday and I said OK," said Mussina, whose arm has been fatigued lately. "It was that simple."

He last pitched Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader with the New York Yankees and was ineffective, giving up three runs and five walks in two innings.

Manager Davey Johnson and pitching coach Pat Dobson are concerned with Mussina's arm strength down the stretch, so they let him decide if he wanted to pitch tomorrow, on three days' rest, or Tuesday, on his usual four days' rest.

"Really, he only threw 70 pitches in a period from [Sept.] 12th to the 19th," said Dobson. "So we asked him what he wanted to do."

By pitching tomorrow, Mussina would be scheduled to pitch again Saturday and would be likely to pitch again Oct. 2 at the earliest, in the second game of a playoff series.

Don't bunt, Robbie

Roberto Alomar, who went into last night with a .332 average and 41 doubles, said he has been bunting a lot lately, especially early in games, to give the Orioles a chance to jump on teams early.

Alomar has the freedom to bunt on his own, and although Johnson said he respects Alomar's ability to lay down a great bunt, he would like to see the All-Star swing away more frequently.

"I like him driving those runs in or changing places with a guy," Johnson said. "But he knows what he can do or what he feels comfortable doing. He's one heck of a player and me trying to say, 'Well, I just don't want you bunting,' I'm not going to do that to him. But I have told him my preference is that he doesn't give himself up."

"I just want to get guys over to score some runs," Alomar said. "Sometimes I'm trying to bunt for a base hit, but either way I'm trying to get the guy over.

"When you put one run on the board, the other team has to score two. If you get one run every inning, even though that's not going to happen, that's nine runs. You can get on top of a team right away. You can put pressure on their offense."

Triple-A in Bowie?

The Orioles could be doing some minor-league shifting in the not too distant future.

Director of player development Syd Thrift said that if Bowie gets a Triple-A franchise in 1998, the Orioles would strongly consider putting a team there. Bowie, which is the Orioles' Double-A affiliate, is one of the cities being considered for Triple-A expansion.

"We'd have no objection [to putting a Triple-A team there]," Thrift said. "It's really not our call. It's up to the expansion committee and Peter Kirk [chairman of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership Inc.]. Bowie is probably a prime location because of their attendance and their stadium."

Thrift said the move would not be easy given the Orioles' long Triple-A history with Rochester and the new stadium built there. However, the Orioles' contract with Rochester runs out after the 1997 season.

"It's still a tough decision because the people of Rochester supported the team for so long and so many great players have been developed there for Baltimore," Thrift said.

Thrift said if the Orioles put their Triple-A team in Bowie, they would consider a Double-A team in York, Pa. That would give the Orioles nearly all of their minor-league teams within a short drive.

Winter pitching plans

Several of the Orioles top pitching prospects are either already playing in the instructional league or will be playing winter ball.

Chris Fussell is throwing again, but has a small tear in an elbow ligament. Fussell will pitch in Hawaii this winter. Alvie Shepherd, the Orioles' No. 1 pick in 1995, who struggled at Frederick this season, will pitch in Australia.

Jimmy Haynes is scheduled to report to the instructional league tonight and will play in the Arizona Fall League in October. Brian Sackinsky and Sidney Ponson, two other pitching prospects, are already in the instructional league.

Playoff tickets to go on sale

Playoff tickets for Camden Yards will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. exclusively through Ticketmaster. Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series are scheduled for Oct. 1 and 2 at Camden Yards, should the Orioles qualify. Approximately 5,000 tickets remain for both games. Fans can purchase up to six tickets per order, priced at $25 and $15, with a $3 service charge per ticket. The tickets must be picked up at Camden Yards. Call (410) 481-SEAT for tickets.

Around the horn

The Orioles have discussed activating disabled outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, who has not played since getting injured Aug. 15, but assistant general manager Kevin Malone said nothing is imminent. Alomar is hitting .194 (12-for-62) in September.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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