Mussina set to start Saturday vs. Braves Ace assures O's he's ready after 15-minute side session


BOSTON -- With an uneventful 15-minute side session, Mike Mussina gave the Orioles a final assurance that he is ready to leave the disabled list and will start Saturday against the Atlanta Braves at Camden Yards.

"Everyone has seen what they needed to see," said pitching coach Mike Flanagan, who supervised yesterday's workout. "It was a normal side session. He was wide-open."

Mussina was satisfied with the action of his pitches, though he noted that it is impossible to simulate game conditions in a bullpen.

Mussina has not thrown to a hitter since May 14, when he broke his nose and suffered a laceration above his right eye after Cleveland's Sandy Alomar lined a shot off his face.

The Orioles are satisfied with everything they have seen so far from Mussina but remain quietly concerned about how he'll react to again facing batters.

Mussina said he still feels pressure on the right side of his face when he makes sudden movements or jars himself. For that reason, he has chosen to ride a stationary bicycle rather than participate in the pitchers' running.

The schedule also spares Mussina any hitting chores despite the advent of interleague play. The designated hitter will be in force this weekend against the Braves and Mussina will not start in Philadelphia next week. His first experience hitting likely will come June 27 in Montreal.

The outlook remains less clear regarding Scott Kamieniecki, who has not thrown since going on the disabled list May 23 with a muscle strain on the right side of his neck.

Flanagan says he won't approach Kamieniecki about throwing until he receives clearance from trainers. Should Kamieniecki still have not thrown by June 11 -- a span of 20 days -- Flanagan will consider the condition more severe.

Manager Ray Miller said yesterday that he'd prefer to send Kamieniecki on a minor-league rehab outing, but he does not enjoy such a luxury because of the team's shortage of arms. Instead, Kamieniecki likely will work in long relief before re-entering the rotation.

Barring a trade, Doug Johns and Sidney Ponson will remain in the rotation for at least the next 10 days.

"If everything was perfect, you'd have Johns and Ponson out there on an every-other-day basis," Miller said. "In the last two or three days I haven't done much [bullpen] matchups regardless of who it is. If someone's throwing well, they're in there. I don't have those options."

Bordick down, not out

The Orioles don't plan to use shortstop Mike Bordick on this two-day trip to Boston but are optimistic about his return for this weekend's three-game homestand against the Braves.

Bordick compounded a sprained left foot when he suffered an ankle sprain Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

The club had pondered promoting P. J. Forbes from Triple-A Rochester but reconsidered when Bordick's ankle showed minimal swelling. Bordick originally was listed as out for three to five days. However, Miller updated the projection to three days.

Dodgers balk on Nomo

Moving to push a trade for Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo, the Orioles have offered either of their two most prized right-handed relievers, Armando Benitez or Alan Mills, but will apparently have to do more to sway Los Angeles officials.

Orioles officials still believe a deal possible soon, according to a source familiar with the talks. The Dodgers designated Nomo for assignment Monday, obligating the team to trade or release the 1995 National League Rookie of the Year within 10 days.

General manager Pat Gillick and assistant GM Kevin Malone have received authorization from owner Peter Angelos to complete a deal for Nomo if it can be negotiated. Nomo is on the final season of a four-year contract but remains arbitration-eligible for the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Return of Rhodes

Left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes was examined in Baltimore yesterday then took a 1: 30 afternoon flight to Boston. Doctors gave him a clean bill of health and Miller used him to save last night's 3-0 victory. Rhodes pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief of Johns, allowing one hit and striking out three.

Rhodes took a shot to the upper abdomen Tuesday when Ken Griffey sent a line drive through the box. Rhodes has been diagnosed with a contusion and appeared to throw stiffly during warm-ups.

Around the horn

Tickets are scarce for this weekend's series. Only 1,600 are left for tomorrow night and scattered singles remain for Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The Braves will send Arundel High product Denny Neagle, Kevin Millwood and Greg Maddux against Scott Erickson, Mussina and Doug Drabek, respectively. Jeffrey Hammonds sat for a third straight game last night because of a muscle spasms in his back.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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