Mills answers the call despite his tender groin Johnson calls scoreless 7th 'most critical inning' in win


ARLINGTON, Texas -- After contemplating a more cautious path, Orioles manager Davey Johnson decided to employ Alan Mills two days after the middle reliever suffered a slight groin pull. The situation that had been classified as day-to-day became inning-to-inning.

"I wasn't sure what was going to happen," Mills said. "I guess the right situation came up."

Johnson was intent on holding the game after erasing a 4-0 deficit. With the Orioles nursing a 5-4 lead, Johnson called upon Mills to handle the seventh inning. Mills retired the side in order. Johnson called it "the most critical inning" of the night.

"I've been through this type of thing before and I don't want to go through it again," Mills said before the game. "With the number of guys we have healthy now, there's really no reason to take a chance. If I have to miss some time, I'd rather it be a little

right now instead of a month later on."

Mills pitched to two hitters Wednesday after pulling the muscle warming up on a mound dug up by Kansas City starter Kevin Appier. He winced on a strikeout pitch against Jermaine Dye, got Craig Paquette on an infield pop, then was removed.

"It didn't give me any problems tonight," he said.

Kamieniecki stretches out

On Thursday, Scott Kamieniecki made an emergency start. Yesterday, he felt it.

Though no worse for wear after his 4 2/3 -inning appearance, Kamieniecki said he felt his 81 pitches much more the day after.

"I didn't notice it while I was out there, but it's there a little more today," said Kamieniecki, who merited bonus points for gutsiness from Johnson and pitching coach Ray Miller.

Johnson had projected only 70 pitches from Kamieniecki, who has undergone two elbow surgeries the past two years and has not won since last April 24. Kamieniecki never pitched more than three innings in any of his seven spring appearances.

No swelling for Mussina

The Orioles also received good news about Mike Mussina. A day after throwing from a mound for 10 minutes, Mussina reported no swelling in his tender right elbow.

Mussina is on track to start tomorrow's game six days after being scratched from an Opening Day assignment.

Turbulence in Texas

The turbulent Texas weather was felt in various ways last night. It delayed the game 17 minutes, and neither team took batting practice.

Surrounding conditions were rough enough that umpire Jim Evans was unable to land from Minneapolis.

Alomar to rejoin club

Second baseman Roberto Alomar is scheduled to rejoin the team tonight in preparation for his first scheduled action Monday afternoon in Kansas City.

Alomar has spent the past several days in Sarasota, Fla., rehabbing his sprained left ankle while serving his five-game suspension. Johnson expects Alomar to immediately land in the lineup.

"I think he's had enough rest. How long has it been, two months?" he said.

Johnson has several ways in which to use Alomar in the batting order. He could restore his second baseman to the No. 2 spot in the order, the same place he began the 1996 season, and drop down Mike Bordick, who is hitless in his first 11 at-bats.

However, Johnson has said he likes the idea of Bordick behind Anderson. If he chooses not to jostle Bordick, Alomar could hit third and Rafael Palmeiro would move into the cleanup spot.

Trade winds revived?

The Orioles are being followed by Philadelphia Phillies official Jimmy Stewart, apparently as discussions continue over a trade involving Darren Daulton.

Pub Date: 4/05/97

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