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At least there's good news for Mussina Procedure to reset nose of injured pitcher goes well


NEW YORK -- Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina had his nose reset yesterday by Dr. Brad Robertson at University of Maryland Medical Center, and manager Ray Miller said he was told the procedure went smoothly.

"That's good news," Miller said, happy to pass along something positive during these trying times.

Mussina was found to have "a couple of small fractures" on the right side of his nose, and the top portion had to be realigned, Miller said. The damage, which also included a gash over his right eye, occurred when Mussina was hit in the face by a line drive from Cleveland's Sandy Alomar on May 14, forcing him on the disabled list for the second time this year.

The right-hander won't be able to throw for a few days as the swelling subsides. Asked if he was optimistic Mussina would be ready to pitch in two weeks, Miller said, "I'm hoping for sooner than that, knowing Mike. But if that's what it is, that's what it is.

"Mike's been throwing. He felt a little bit of pain when he ran, but he's in top shape."

Miller acknowledged how losing Mussina had a trickle-down affect on the rest of the staff. Before last night, Orioles pitchers had allowed at least nine hits each time out during the seven-game losing streak, and opponents were batting .318 and averaging 6.4 runs.

"Obviously, your No. 1 guy sets the tone for everything," Miller said. "We don't need anyone here to become No. 1. We need to have a couple good outings to get everything in place."

Miller said left-hander Doug Johns probably will start Sunday in Oakland, again taking Mussina's scheduled turn. Fresh off the DL, Johns limited New York to one run over five innings Tuesday, scattering eight hits and leaving with a 5-1 lead that the bullpen fumbled. His effort was lost among the hysteria surrounding the brawl three innings later.

Waiting for momentum

Each game brings the same questions, the same why's and when's and how's.

Why can't the Orioles get rolling? When, if ever, will it happen? How can they reverse this terrible slide?

"This is a game of momentum both ways. It can go bad as quick as it can go good," said pitcher Jimmy Key. "Sometimes it doesn't matter what kind of talent you've got, what kind of team you've got. Once you get going the wrong way it's tough to turn it around. But I don't see this team quitting. We've got a lot of baseball left."

Rafael Palmeiro said if he knew the reasons for his club's struggles, "We wouldn't be in this [mess]."

"We have to just keep coming out and playing hard and prepare the right way. We think we have good enough talent here that we can turn this thing around," he said.

"It's still early and we believe we can still make the playoffs. But that's too far out there. We're not going to worry about that. We're going to take each game and try to get better and get on a roll."

Ovation greets Lloyd

There was a time when the sight of left-hander Graeme Lloyd strolling in from the bullpen would lead grown men in New York to weep -- or scream obscenities. The Yankees reliever was the Bronx's favorite whipping boy during their World Series season of 1996, owner George Steinbrenner included.

Not anymore.

He became more accepted after not allowing a run in the '96 postseason. Tuesday night he reached cult-hero status, and not from any pitch thrown.

It was the punches, aimed wildly at Armando Benitez after the Orioles reliever had nailed Tino Martinez in the back with a fastball and incited a 10-minute brawl. Lloyd stormed the field, one of baseball's most mild-manners players gone ballistic, and highlights of him rushing to the defense of a teammate were beamed across the country.

Not required to serve his three-game suspension until after Darryl Strawberry completes his sentence, Lloyd was called into Wednesday's game in the seventh inning, carried to the mound by a thunderous ovation and chanting of his name from 32,449.

"I looked up to make sure we were bringing in the right pitcher," Torre said.

Torre has 'respect' for O's

Torre said he hadn't spoken with Benitez at the time the suspensions were handed down and couldn't say whether the right-hander was "remorseful."

Even so, he wasn't holding the entire organization accountable for what happened Tuesday.

"I hate to use a wide brush to paint everybody," he said. "I still have a great deal of respect for the Orioles."

Miller said yesterday that Benitez, slapped with an eight-game suspension, would accompany the team on the West Coast.

Around the horn

Eric Davis (swollen right elbow) didn't play last night. He has received treatment and has it wrapped. "He threw for the first time [yesterday] and it's a little better," Miller said. Cal Ripken's second-inning single moved him past Vada Pinson for 40th place on the career hit list with 2,758. New York swept a three-game series from the Orioles at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 1993. The Yankees have won seven of eight games against the Orioles after losing eight in a row. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had a 15-game hitting streak come to an end.

The Orioles have signed catcher Juan Bonilla, their 36th-round pick in last year's draft. He will report to the club's extended spring training camp in Sarasota, Fla., next week. Bonilla's father, of the same name, was an infielder with the Orioles in 1986.

Martinez was in the lineup, but was scratched after batting practice.

Pub Date: 5/22/98

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