Matt Riley said he didn't know anything about his scheduled start tonight being in jeopardy. Doug Johns said he had been told Riley would take the mound. Manager Ray Miller said the decision wasn't final.
The rookie left-hander will pitch the second game of today's day-night doubleheader against New York, trying for a third time to gain his first major-league win.
"He's very probable," Miller said, without fully committing.
Riley, already being watched closely because he's piled up 182 innings this season, concerned Miller with a poor bullpen session in Boston earlier this week. Riley was "really fighting himself throwing the ball over the plate," Miller said. "Mechanically, he's kind of confused."
There was more confusion yesterday.
Told that Miller had said on Tuesday that his start tonight no longer was 100 percent certain, Riley responded: "As far as I know, I'm throwing. I'm preparing myself to start. That's what I'm looking at. That's news to me."
Johns, who had been mentioned by Miller as a possible replacement for Riley, indicated no change was forthcoming.
"They told me he was pitching," Johns said.
Miller wasn't showing his hand. Asked if he had decided on a starter, he said, "No, not really."
Riley admitted he threw poorly in Boston, but said he was tinkering with his delivery and had corrected the problem after Miller walked away.
"I was having a little trouble finding the plate," he said. "I tried to experiment with a little something different, but it wasn't going well so I went back to my other way of doing it and I was fine. I was showing a little better control. I had been trying to simplify my delivery a little but that wasn't working. I was fine at the end."
Continuing his campaign to remain in the rotation, Riley also said the extra rest he's gotten since being promoted from Double-A Bowie has livened his arm.
"It's been feeling all right lately," said Riley.
After the game was called and Miller met with general manager Frank Wren, the manager confirmed Riley would receive his third major-league start tonight against Orlando Hernandez, potentially in a pennant-clinching situation.
Johns' trial postponed
Johns' trial in Baltimore District Court on charges of marijuana possession and possession of paraphernalia was postponed yesterday until Nov. 4. It marked the second delay in the case stemming from Johns' arrest in downtown Baltimore following an April 5 traffic stop. Johns was charged after marijuana and a smoking device allegedly were found in his vehicle.
"I have been advised to have no comment," Johns said last night.
Johns' attorney, Scott D. Shellenberger, also offered no comment. Shellenberger is employed by the law firm owned by Orioles chairman Peter Angelos.
The continuance was allowed by District Court Judge Charlotte M. Cooksey. A delay sought by prosecutors earlier this month had been denied.
Johns' availability had been in question because of a strained muscle on his right side, which occurred while he was pitching in relief of Doug Linton on Saturday. He received treatment, which included heat and ice, and threw in the bullpen yesterday.
"I feel great," he said.
Miller's bullpen gained another pitcher when Al Reyes became available after being shut down for the past three days because of some tightness in his arm. He pitched in the same game as Johns, hitting the only batter he faced, Boston's Nomar Garciaparra.
"He came to me [Tuesday] night and said, 'If you need me badly, I can pitch tonight.' And I said, 'We'll wait until tomorrow.' It's just stiffness, some arm tiredness."
Surhoff favorite for MVP
The local media are being asked to select a team Most Valuable Player, with left fielder B. J. Surhoff the overwhelming favorite. Miller, when asked who he'd choose, rattled off a list of names before seeming to lean toward Surhoff by a narrow margin over shortstop Mike Bordick.
"B.J., very honestly. Bordick, very honestly," Miller said. "It's kind of hard not to put Albert [Belle] in the group. I guess maybe Moose [Mike Mussina]. I guess day in, day out, a complete game, on an everyday basis, you've got to say Surhoff's been just outstanding. You've got to say the same thing about Bordy. He's got career numbers. He's got the best fielding everything in the league -- chances, assists, the least errors, all that stuff. [Jeff] Conine's been valuable as heck.
"I'm afraid I'm missing somebody."
"Brady, yeah. Eighty-one RBIs from the leadoff spot. Thirty-some stolen bases. He's scored 100-and-something," Miller said.
His choices for league MVP also were numerous, though he eventually narrowed them to two: Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez and Cleveland second baseman Roberto Alomar. Miller also mentioned Rangers DH Rafael Palmeiro -- like Alomar, a former Oriole -- Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez and New York shortstop Derek Jeter.
"When I look down and see they've got 38 stolen bases against [Rodriguez] and 45 caught, not counting about 50 pickoffs, that's pretty dominant," Miller said.
Around the horn
Third baseman Cal Ripken was a no-show again yesterday. The Orioles have 105 stolen bases, their most since 1989, when they finished with 118. They're fifth in the league in stolen-base efficiency with a 70.9 percent success rate (105-for-148). On the flip side, opponents haven't stolen a base off the Orioles in the past 16 games, dating to Sept. 10, and have attempted only one.
Opponent: New York Yankees (day-night doubleheader)
Site: Camden Yards
Time: 1: 05 p.m., 7: 05 p.m.
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Game 1: Yankees' Roger Clemens (14-9, 4.51) vs. Orioles' Mike Mussina (17-7, 3.62). Game 2: Yankees' Orlando Hernandez (16-9, 4.12) vs. Orioles' Matt Riley (0-0, 7.36)
Tickets: Game 1: About 4,000 remain. Game 2: About 2,500 remain Pub Date: 9/30/99