Brady Anderson was supposed to start in center field for the Orioles last night, but ended up as the designated hitter. He's bothered by a bruised left calf, a sore right knee and a chest cold, and this was as close as he has come to resting.
Geronimo Berroa, who had been written into the lineup as the DH, was put in right field for the second time since being acquired in a trade with the Oakland Athletics on June 27. Jeffrey Hammonds moved to center.
Anderson remained the leadoff hitter, going 0-for-3 with a walk and grounding into his first double play of the season. Anderson and the Seattle Mariners' Joey Cora began last night as the only AL players who hadn't done so.
After the 3-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox, manager Davey Johnson approached Anderson in the clubhouse and asked if he needed another break from playing center field today. Anderson told him no.
Johnson said left fielder B. J. Surhoff might have pulled a groin muscle while chasing a fly ball last night, and will check on his status today.
Looking to level out
Every trip to the ballpark for Alan Mills can become another night at the amusement park. And for more than a month, he has been trying to get off the roller coaster.
He goes up, striking out two in a scoreless ninth late last month. Then he comes down, giving up three hits and an earned run in two innings. And sometimes he plummets, allowing three hits and walking six in 1 2/3 innings in Detroit.
It's enough to make a manager dizzy just watching.
Johnson sees Mills take a smooth ride through the Toronto Blue Jays in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 8-4 win, the only bump a meaningless walk on a slider that missed. But then the cart begins to rock. Mills climbs into Thursday night's 12-9 loss to Boston, walks the second batter he faces and is gone.
It was the 10th time he had been called upon since coming off the disabled list in the middle of June with nerve damage in his left shoulder, the price paid for a collision with Lenny Webster before a game two months earlier. He hasn't allowed a run in the past four, covering 2 1/3 innings, but only once in his post-injury appearances has he departed without at least one batter reaching base.
"I think it's coming along," he said. "You don't really come back from an injury until you hit that last wall and break through it completely. You might have an outing where you feel good, then one where you don't. But I feel it getting better."
Johnson was encouraged by Tuesday's effort, saying, "That's the way he can pitch."
"He gets wrapped up in blowing people away instead of just throwing strikes and moving his fastball around and using his pitches," Johnson said. "Last year he was one of the toughest right-handers to hit off, for right-handers. He was in the top five. Obviously, he threw in the high 90s and just likes to blow people away. I would too, but a lot of times a 99-mile-an-hour fastball down the middle goes a long way. So, the object is to just pitch. If you pitch in front, like he did, with his stuff, you'll get people out.
"He's had the stuff. He's capable of doing it, but he'll overthrow his slider, wanting to make it perfect, drop off the table. Or he'll try to really overthrow his fastball."
Mills concedes the point, then to show he's on the same page as his manager, adds, "You have more success when you pitch and not just throw."
Mills had pitched only twice in Sarasota, Fla., while on injury rehab before rejoining the team in Atlanta. He was shocked to be back so quickly, but the club believed he had regained enough strength in the shoulder to protect himself on the mound and not hurt his mechanics.
Johnson said he recently asked Mills if the right-hander thought he could get people out.
"He said, 'What do you think?' I said, 'I think so. That's why I activated you, because I know you can. But you've got to believe it,' " Johnson said.
"Sometimes when you're coming off an injury, you want things to be perfect before you feel you can get people out."
Before the injury, Mills had permitted two runs and struck out six in five innings. Since then, he's logged 10 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) and 12 hits, walking 11 and striking out six. Overall, he's 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA.
"I feel I'm getting closer," said Mills, who didn't make an appearance last night, "but you don't want to get too excited just yet."
Chris Hoiles, who caught Rocky Coppinger at Double-A Bowie on Thursday night before coming off the disabled list yesterday, said the right-hander "looked really well" in his injury rehab start.
Coppinger, on the DL since May 10 with a sprained collateral ligament in his right elbow, threw 64 pitches and allowed four hits and three runs, walked one, struck out two and hit a batter. His fastball reached 91 mph.
"I thought velocity-wise he was pretty good," Hoiles said. "His slider and changeup were pretty good. Nobody really hit the ball hard off him. The hits they got were off the end, jam shots. I was pretty impressed with him.
"I don't think he's that far away, but he's going to have to build up stamina. He's going to have to get up around a 90-pitch limit, or something like that, before he can come back."
"The hardest thing is the heat. It's going to take a lot out of everybody, but especially him. He's a bigger guy."
Coppinger will make another start Tuesday, then the club will decide how soon he can move up to Triple-A Rochester, and perhaps regain a spot in the Orioles' rotation.
"He didn't have any physical problems," Johnson said. "He's not ready for [the majors] yet. We're not putting a timetable on it. We want to get him right."
Around the horn
Randy Myers, making just his sixth appearance since June 17, pitched the ninth and gave up his first run since that outing. Myers would have given up a pair, but Surhoff got his team-leading seventh outfield assist by throwing out Ozzie Guillen at the plate to end the White Sox's ninth. Chicago second baseman Ray Durham was a late scratch because of a sore right shoulder. He's probable for today. The Orioles made their first offer last week to outfielder Darnell McDonald, the 26th player taken in the June draft. The offer was for less than $1 million. McDonald is believed to be asking for at least $3 million. Berroa changed his number from 10 to 29. Right-hander Billy Percibal was activated from the disabled list yesterday and will report to Single-A Frederick, where he will start tomorrow. He had a 0.90 ERA in four injury-rehab appearances in Sarasota, Fla. Right-hander Chris Fussell was transferred from Double-A Bowie Frederick yesterday. He was 1-8 with a 7.11 ERA in 19 games. Last year, Fussell was 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA with Frederick.
Pub Date: 7/19/97