CHICAGO, JULY 8 -- Baltimore Orioles Manager Frank Robinson removed some of the suspense concerning his club's pitching rotation today by saying Bob Milacki will start Wednesday night's lockout makeup game against the Kansas City Royals and Pete Harnisch will start Thursday night to begin a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
He also said today's starter Dave Johnson "fits in there somewhere" -- probably on Friday night.
What happens next is one of the things that will be discussed at a meeting here Monday involving Robinson, President Larry Lucchino, General Manager Roland Hemond and Assistant General Manager Doug Melvin.
The contenders for the final two spots, assuming Baltimore will use a five-man rotation, would appear to be Jeff Ballard, John Mitchell, Ben McDonald and Curt Schilling.
Ballard (1-9) had been a starter until last week, when Robinson decided to go with four starters until the all-star break because of an off day last Monday and his desire to have a left-hander in the bullpen to go with Kevin Hickey. Left-handed reliever Joe Price has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 27 because of a lower back strain.
Ballard, who today made his fourth appearance of the week, has allowed one hit and no runs in 3 2/3 innings as a reliever to lower his earned run average to 5.06.
Mitchell has been used as a starter since being recalled from Class AAA Rochester on June 15. He has pitched well in three of his last four starts. McDonald and Schilling, starters at Rochester, have been relievers since their recalls.
Robinson said Ballard's fate would not be decided by the status of Price, who said he "expects" to be ready Thursday when he is eligible for activation.
But Robinson said he would like to have two left-handed relievers, and he thinks it is more important to have left-handers in the bullpen than in the starting rotation. That's where Hickey becomes a factor.
From the beginning of last season to June 3, Hickey held lefties to a .169 batting average (14 for 83, including zero for 15 this season). Since then, lefties are 10 for 17 against him, including four doubles, one triple and one homer.
Dan Pasqua had a run-scoring double against him today, although Pasqua was seven for 10 in the series and is 11 for 22 against Baltimore this season, with 3 homers, 2 doubles, a triple and 10 RBI.
Still, Hickey said he is a "little bit" concerned. He said he has been throwing well, but he knows the reason he is with the Orioles is to retire lefties -- usually only one or two in a stint.
"My job is to get them out," he said. "Of late, I haven't been as consistent."
Vincent Gets View of Comiskey
Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent attended today's game, the first one he has seen at Comiskey Park. Even with Vincent on hand, the World Cup soccer championship match was shown live on the stadium's video board for about 10 minutes before the start of the game.