Manager Davey Johnson said yesterday that barring a miraculous recovery, reliever Alan Mills will go on the disabled list within the next 48 hours because of a pinched nerve. The move would be retroactive to last Friday, when Mills was injured during a pre-game collision with catcher Lenny Webster in the outfield.
The injury mostly affects Mills' left (nonthrowing) shoulder.
"The report I got wasn't real favorable," Johnson said. "He will possibly be out 10 days to two weeks. Just talking to Jimmy [Palmer], that left shoulder is so important for driving to home plate. You've got to be able to get it up He's still very restricted."
Losing Mills makes it less likely that right-hander Rocky Coppinger will pitch in the minors on an injury rehabilitation assignment before joining the Orioles. Coppinger is eligible to come off the disabled list tonight and will make the trip to Chicago for the series tomorrow and Thursday.
"I don't necessarily want to go to 11 [pitchers] when I've been used to 12," Johnson said, adding that there isn't anyone in the minors who would be a candidate to fill in for a short period.
Johnson also said it would be pushing it to get five innings from Coppinger in his first start, "but him and [Shawn] Boskie, that's probably what they'll get."
Boskie still doesn't know when his next start is coming, though he has a pretty good idea where.
If Johnson wants to keep Mike Mussina on five days' rest -- he pitched Friday night -- Boskie will start Thursday in Chicago. Otherwise, Boskie will face the White Sox tomorrow. Either way, left-hander Jimmy Key would remain on schedule, starting Friday in Boston.
"My recollection is we had it set up in order to give [Mussina] an extra day and keep everybody regular," Johnson said.
Boskie's only appearance thus far was April 5 in Texas, when he went the first four innings and gave up four runs in the Orioles' 9-7 victory. He was supposed to be the club's fifth starter, but has been the invisible man because of postponements and injuries.
Boskie, who broke into the majors with the Chicago Cubs in 1990, said he has never had a spring in which his schedule was so erratic. "It's been unusual, but that's all right. It's not like I have a bad attitude about it. It's just been different," he said.
"I haven't gone through the skipping before, but I know that comes with the territory," Boskie said. "Ideally, you'd like to be out there on a regular basis, but that's the way the game is."
Alomar likely to sit
Johnson said Roberto Alomar probably won't play tonight because he's starting to favor the left ankle he severely sprained during the off-season, which is causing his right hip to hurt.
Pitch count snafu
Johnson repeated yesterday, in good humor, that he probably wouldn't have sent Key out for the ninth inning Sunday if he had known the left-hander's actual pitch count. Johnson said last night's starter, Scott Erickson, was charting the pitches and had Key down for 10 fewer than the actual total.
Key, who had rotator cuff surgery two years ago, finished the game and threw 122 pitches.
"I haven't talked to today's starter [Erickson], but I will get around to it," Johnson said. "I didn't want to upset him, but obviously he didn't have his heart in it [charting the pitches]."
The Orioles will honor Jackie Robinson's memory in pre-game ceremonies tonight on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the major leagues' color barrier.
Sam Lacy, 93, sports editor of the Baltimore Afro-American, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Orioles catcher Lenny Webster, who changed his number to 42 in honor of Robinson.
'Wonder Woman' visits
It was "Wonder Woman meets Iron Man" last night at Camden Yards.
Actress Lynda Carter, who portrayed the comic book superhero in the 1970s television series, threw out the first pitch before last night's game. She also spent some time chatting with Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken and his wife, Kelly.
Around the horn
Last night's attendance of 36,288 ended a Camden Yards streak of 47 straight games of at least 40,000. It was only the 22nd time in 372 games the Orioles failed to draw 40,000. Todd bTC Walker's stolen base left Chris Hoiles 0-for-8 in throwing out runners attempting to steal.
Pub Date: 4/15/97