OAKLAND, AUG. 9 -- Randy Milligan was without a sling and proudly displayed an ability to hold his left arm almost parallel to the ground today. So the Baltimore Orioles breathed a sigh of relief that their first baseman and most consistent run producer likely won't have to go on the disabled list, then crossed their fingers that Milligan's forecast of returning to action in three to four days proves correct.

Milligan said the shoulder he bruised in a home-plate collision Tuesday with Oakland catcher Ron Hassey improved dramatically after a day off. After fearing Wednesday he might be headed for the disabled list, Milligan said this afternoon that he plans to try to take batting practice by Sunday and resume full-time duties shortly thereafter.

"It feels pretty good," Milligan said. "It's improved a lot in one day . . . . The trainers tell me it'll be about three or four days, and if it keeps going like this, I think that's probably right."

Manager Frank Robinson was less certain, saying today and Friday will be crucial in determining Milligan's status. "He's better today, but he's nowhere close to playing," Robinson said. "I don't think it'll be the hitting part. I think it'll be lifting his arm on catches" at first base that will be a problem.

Robinson was left with a first-base dilemma Wednesday, when Mickey Tettleton had to be pressed into emergency duty after Sam Horn was removed. The team's other first baseman, Ron Kittle, was designated hitter at the time; if a designated hitter is moved to the field, rules stipulate the pitcher must bat.

General Manager Roland Hemond quickly made arrangements from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum press box to have David Segui ready for a possible recall from Class AAA Rochester if Milligan goes to the disabled list. Beanball Review

American League President Bobby Brown viewed the videotape of Friday's Orioles-Kansas City Royals beanball incident and will assess fines but no suspensions, a league spokesperson said.

It remains unclear whether Baltimore pitcher John Mitchell -- ejected from that game for throwing behind Kevin Seitzer after both teams had been issued warnings -- will be fined beyond the amount mandatory for an ejection. The spokesperson said the players involved will be notified by mail shortly . . . .

Orioles third baseman Craig Worthington returned to the starting lineup after missing four games with a slight hamstring pull. Robinson was somewhat upset that Worthington hadn't made it clear when he was ready to play full-time.

Indications are Hemond would like to make a trade or two, but the players he wanted to deal didn't clear waivers and any major transactions involving the Orioles now are unlikely . . . . Pitcher Jeff Ballard tied Mike Cuellar Wednesday as the Orioles' all-time leading triple-play pitcher, when he induced Willie Randolph to line into the second one he has had turned for him in two years with Ballard on the mound . . . .

The triple play also kept reliever Mark Williamson from allowing a run for a sixth straight appearance. Still, those six outings produced 16 hits and nine earned runs allowed in 11 2/3 innings -- that on the heels of a string of 22 consecutive scoreless innings.