Unsure of Mussina, O's call Munoz Reliever spent parts of last 4 years with Phils


Uncertain if Mike Mussina will be available for Tuesday's start in New York, the Orioles added a 12th pitcher yesterday, right-hander Bobby Munoz, and sent catcher Charlie Greene back to Triple-A Rochester.

Munoz, 30, was 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and four saves in 13 appearances with the Red Wings. He spent parts of the last four seasons with Philadelphia after breaking into the majors with the New York Yankees in 1993. Last year, he went 1-5 with an 8.91 ERA in eight games with the Phillies before requesting his release and pitching for two teams in the Pacific Coast League.

Munoz, a hard thrower who is 6 feet 7, 210 pounds, was in uniform last night.

"If Mike has to miss a start, there's no way I can go with 11 pitchers," said manager Ray Miller.

Greene collected his first major-league hit in Cleveland on May 6, and was 2-for-4 in three games.

Miller said he has a backup plan if Mussina can't go Tuesday, but only smiled when asked for details. He expects Mussina, who was hit above the right eye by a line drive from Cleveland's Sandy Alomar on Thursday night, to avoid the disabled list.

"I don't want the team to feel the Yankees series is the biggest series of the year because we have another club [Boston] in front of us. That's the club we should be concentrating on," Miller said.

Orosco looking for answers

Seeking help in finding the source of his struggles, left-hander Jesse Orosco has began checking videotape to catch any mechanical flaws.

Orosco has allowed three hits and walked two over his last 1 2/3 innings, spanning three appearances. Most alarming is his ineffectiveness against left-handed hitters, who are 8-for-14 with two home runs against him this year.

In Thursday's 5-4 loss to Cleveland, Orosco relieved Alan Mills in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first, and gave up a single to left-handed-hitting Kenny Lofton. He then began the ninth by walking Jim Thome, another left-handed batter, and was removed for Armando Benitez.

Orosco noticed while watching the tapes that he's not finishing properly on his delivery and is relying too much on his arm to generate power, rather than his legs.

"My balance is off a little bit to where by the time I get to my release point I'm still kind of standing up. I don't have any force going through the pitch," said Orosco, who has a 7.27 ERA in 14 games, surrendering 15 hits and three homers in 8 2/3 innings.

"I've still got the same stuff as last year. I'm just in a funk. I think by pitching more often, that will help," Orosco said. "I've got to start getting left-handers out."

Mini-iron man

First baseman Rafael Palmeiro remained in the lineup last night, joining Cal Ripken as the only Orioles to start all 40 games.

Miller said he has offered to rest Palmeiro twice and was rebuffed both times. It's just as well.

"Those were the two best nights he's had," Miller said.

One that got away

The Orioles were given another reminder of the cruel tendencies of baseball's expansion draft when Aaron Ledesma started at third base last night for Tampa Bay.

Ledesma slipped through the Orioles' fingers over the winter and landed with the Devil Rays, for whom he is hitting .357.

Endearing himself to Orioles officials last summer with his versatility and offensive pop, Ledesma has made 10 starts with the Devil Rays: six at second base, two at shortstop and two at third base. In his last seven starts, he is 10-for-23 with three doubles and a triple. After going 2-for-4 last night, he's hitting .365 in his 57-game major-league career.

The Orioles signed veteran Ozzie Guillen to fill Ledesma's role as a second utility player, then released him earlier this month after the former All-Star managed just one hit in 17 at-bats. Ledesma, meanwhile, has been a rock.

"In everybody's career you're going to have to take a turn, and this was for the best," he said. "I miss it in Baltimore, but it was time to move on and now I'm getting a little more playing time and making the most of it."

Road trip for Davis

Miller has provided outfielder Eric Davis with ample rest. It should serve him well tonight.

Following the Orioles' game against Tampa Bay, Davis will participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life, visiting the event's two sites and joining in a walk to honor cancer survivors like himself, and to remember those who were less fortunate.

Davis, an honorary chairman for the event, will go from Camden Yards to Owings Mills High School, where the walk will take place from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. tomorrow. He'll then go to Essex Community College, where it will last from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. tomorrow.

"It's a nice gesture on his part, with his busy schedule," said Steve Jones, director of communications for the American Cancer Society Mid-Atlantic Region. "To be dedicated enough to join us, we really appreciate it."

Around the horn

The Orioles have been at .500 four times this season: 1-1, 13-13, 16-16, 20-20. Before homering in the sixth inning, Davis was 1-for-13 lifetime against Wilson Alvarez. It averted the Orioles' first shutout since July 20, 1997. Tampa Bay tripled twice for the first time. Ledesma will sign autographs at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum on Monday from 11 a.m. to noon. He will be accompanied by Devil Rays vice president of public relations Rick Vaughn, who is a former Orioles director of public relations. Cost is admission to the museum: $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for children ages 5-16, free for children under 5.

Pub Date: 5/16/98

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