On a day when he was supposed to pitch seven or eight innings, Storm Davis lasted only four shaky ones, and the Baltimore Orioles' pitching plans again are scrambled.
Scrambled, as in: When will he pitch again? Scrambled, as in: How many more injuries can he suffer?
As the Montreal Expos beat the Orioles, 3-2, at Miami Stadium today, Davis suffered a pulled stomach muscle that comes hard on the heels of a virus that had left him weak and tired. The virus comes on the heels of a 1985 season that ended with two line drives, one off his shin, the other off his right wrist.
Today was his fifth start this spring, and it was another poor one, the Expos getting five hits and three runs off him. As a result, his spring numbers don't look any better than his 1985 numbers: a 1-3 record, 5.40 ERA and 24 hits in 20 innings.
After the game, he sat in the clubhouse with an ice pack strapped around his stomach. He is scheduled to start the Orioles' fourth game of the season, April 11 in Arlington, Tex., but now is unsure about even making his final spring start.
"I don't even know how many pitches it was 62 ," he said. "Not nearly enough, I know that. I needed to throw 100 or more, but I was sick to my stomach all one night when we were in Tampa, and today on my second warmup pitch, I felt an immediate discomfort, a pull of some kind.
"I just don't know. I don't like it. I only have one spring start left, and I'd really wanted to go seven or eight innings today. It's not a real good thing. I'm having a hard time moving my upper body."
Regardless, he said he intended to make his first regular season start as scheduled, but his plans might not make any difference if he doesn't start getting people out.
"What you want from spring training varies from locker to locker and manager to manager," he said. "Everyone is putting a big emphasis on number of pitches and number of innings this spring. I know I'm ready. In 1983, I hadn't gone longer than five innings down here, and I went eight in my first start."
When he came to the big leagues in 1982 at age 20, he brought a laser-beam fast ball and knee-buckling curve. In both style and substance, he resembled Jim Palmer, and Davis liked the comparisons.
He certainly hasn't failed in the three seasons since, going 45-28 (.616) -- the fourth-best winning percentage among active pitchers with at least 40 victories.
Yet, a year ago, the Orioles considered him unexpendable. Then after a 10-8 season in 1985, he not only was expendable, the Orioles offered him around -- and were turned down by Seattle on a deal for third baseman Jim Presley.
"The year before when I heard my name mentioned in trade talks, it really bothered me," he said, "but not this time. It was out of my control, and I looked at it that way. I want to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles, but if I'd been traded to the Seattle Mariners I'd have done my best for them."
Manager Earl Weaver took Davis' setback in stride, saying: "Maybe he'll have us six or seven easy innings his next time out."
Davis' injury isn't the only one bothering the Orioles. Third baseman Floyd Rayford chipped a bone in his left thumb and will be out at least until early next week. "They're going to look at it again Monday," Rayford said. "They told me it could be three days, a week or three weeks. It's a lucky thing I have tremendous healing powers."
Reliever Tippy Martinez, who came out of Friday night's game against the Yankees with a strained muscle about the left knee, took it easy today and will try to run and throw Sunday . . .
Bill Swaggerty followed Davis with three shutout innings. Nate Snell pitched one and Don Aase one. It was Aase's seventh spring appearance, and he has allowed one run in 10 innings (0.90 ERA) . . . In the last five games, Orioles' starters have a 2.70 ERA . . .
Expos center fielder Mitch Webster slipped rounding first on a single and suffered a left groin pull. There was no immediate word on how long he will be out.