Doug Johns's lengthy outing in tonight's loss to the Kansas City Royals further muddled the Baltimore Orioles' starting rotation picture. It had been hoped the Orioles could start Johns on Friday in Detroit in place of injured ace Mike Mussina, but that now appears unlikely, and the Orioles will need another solution.

Johns entered tonight's game with two outs in the fifth, when starter Doug Linton, pitching on three days' rest, failed to make it out of the inning. Johns pitched 2 1/3 innings tonight.

Mussina will miss his first start of the season as he recovers from a deep bruise of his right shoulder, the result of a line drive that struck him Sunday in Baltimore. Mussina said Tuesday night he expects to make his subsequent start, which would come Sept. 2 at home.

However, Mussina cautioned, "If it's questionable, I might wait another [turn]. With where we are in the standings, it doesn't make sense to risk coming back too soon. . . . I can start to pitch again when the discomfort and the swelling go down enough."

Rhodes's Status Unknown

Left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, who has been unavailable since being struck on the tip of his left index finger Sunday, could return this weekend in Detroit, Miller said. If not, Rhodes might end up on the disabled list. . . .

First baseman Will Clark will have arthroscopic surgery for bone chips in his left elbow Thursday in Birmingham. It will be his third operation on the elbow. Clark is expected to miss the rest of the season. . . .

Derrick May's pinch-hit single in the ninth inning to tie the game Tuesday night gave him three RBI in four plate appearances since the Orioles purchased his contract from Class AAA Rochester on Saturday.

Miller said today that May, a veteran of nine major league seasons with six teams, is the left-handed bat the Orioles have needed the last two seasons.

"I've been asking for a left-handed bat off the bench for two years," Miller said. "When you have [Harold] Baines and May on the bench, if you're facing a lefty [pitcher], you can use one of them in the sixth inning and not have to worry about using your only bullet."