BALTIMORE, AUG. 27 -- Pitcher Bob Milacki today pronounced himself fit to return from the disabled list, but the Baltimore Orioles don't plan to activate him for another five days. And even then, Milacki might not be restored to the starting rotation.
Milacki threw for three innings during a simulated game in Memorial Stadium this afternoon, saying afterward his strained right shoulder seemingly had ceased bothering him. The workhorse of the Orioles' staff a year ago, Milacki struggled to a 4-8 record and 4.63 ERA this season before finally admitting to the shoulder injury that apparently had hindered him throughout the year; he went on the DL July 31 and was eligible to return last week.
"I'm 100 percent, or at least pretty close to it," Milacki said today after allowing six hits to a lineup of teammates.
For now, the Orioles do not need Milacki. Baltimore's rotation is in place at least temporarily, with the just-recalled Jose Mesa set for a starting assignment Tuesday; he will be the fifth pitcher in a rotation that includes rookies Ben McDonald and Anthony Telford, plus second-year man Pete Harnisch and 25-year-old John Mitchell.
Milacki likely will be activated when the rosters expand Sept. 1 and spend some time in the bullpen.
Manager Frank Robinson, who also will have to find a spot for 11-game winner Dave Johnson when his strained lower back heals, said today he wasn't sure of his plans for Milacki.
Johnson threw softly and painlessly on the sideline today for about eight minutes, but he almost certainly won't be ready to pitch for at least another seven to 10 days.
Johnson was given a series of shots Friday in an attempt to relieve the tightness in his back that hasn't subsided appreciably despite nearly two weeks of rest.
Meanwhile, first baseman Randy Milligan will test his slightly separated left shoulder and try to hit by the end of the week, but he still is predicting mid-September for a return to full-time duties. . . .
Following tonight's 4-0 loss to the New York Yankees, the Orioles optioned first baseman Chris Hoiles to Class AAA Rochester to make room on their roster for Mesa. Hoiles had two hits in 21 at-bats since being recalled two weeks ago.
The club also announced it promoted its top selection from June's amateur draft, pitcher Mike Mussina, to Rochester from Class AA Hagerstown. Mussina was 3-0 in seven games with the Suns. Entertaining Guests
The Yankees, as usual, provided plenty of pregame entertainment today. Manager Stump Merrill decided to bench outfielder Mel Hall, apparently for failing to run out a ground ball over the weekend.
Merrill told reporters Hall needed to be rested, prompting a vulgar response from Hall -- who followed by demanding to be traded, threatening a reporter and slamming the door to Merrill's office hard enough that the handle on each side broke off.