After several days of hand-wringing and weighing options, the Orioles settled on left-handed reliever Doug Johns to start Friday night in Detroit. Johns will be the first lefty to start a game for the Orioles this season.

A combination of injuries, bad timing and an overtaxed bullpen left the Orioles today unsure who would start Friday. With no other palatable option, the Orioles were reduced to hoping Sidney Ponson would go deep tonight, freeing up the bullpen to get through Friday's game.

Johns asked Manager Ray Miller for the start, despite having pitched 2 1/3 innings on Wednesday, and Miller agreed -- if for no other reason than Johns showed the desire to do it.

"How long he can go, I couldn't tell you," Miller said. ". . . I told him I can't go very far with him."

The Orioles need a starter because ace Mike Mussina is skipping his turn with a bruised right shoulder. With Arthur Rhodes (jammed finger) improved enough to be available tonight, the Orioles feel they had enough manpower in the bullpen to get them through Friday night.

Scott Kamieniecki, who had been a starting pitcher the majority of his career into this season, was not an option to start.

"I want to leave Kammy right where he is," Miller said.

Calvin Maduro and Terry Burrows are available from Class AAA Rochester, but since neither is on the Orioles' 40-man roster, a call-up would require the Orioles to drop somebody, something they don't want to do only five days before rosters expand on Sept. 1.

Clark Has Surgery

First baseman Will Clark underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow today in Birmingham. James Andrews shaved off some bone spurs in the back of the elbow, and there were no bone chips, according to General Manager Frank Wren. Clark will return to Baltimore to begin his rehabilitation. Wren said it would be about two weeks before Clark can begin baseball activities. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. . . .

Third baseman Cal Ripken had a lengthy session in the batting cage today, and said he "swung hard" without feeling any discomfort in his back. He said he hopes to take ground balls on the field Friday in Detroit. He could come off the disabled list during next week's homestand.