Three-hit game gets Bordick into swing O's new shortstop remains upbeat despite slow start at the plate

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Mike Bordick said he feels comfortable at the plate. Coach Rick Down said the Orioles shortstop is hitting some balls "very, very hard."

Too often, they've gone right at people, which served as one explanation for a batting average that stood at a sickly .074 before last night's game against the Texas Rangers.

"I'm not happy with it, that's for sure," Bordick said.

His spirits, and his average, were lifted last night after going 3-for-4 in the Orioles' 9-3 victory. It was his first multi-hit game as an Oriole, and he's up to .161 (5-for-31).

"The last few games, I've made some pretty good contact and had some much better at-bats," he said. "I'm working hard at it."

He began the season 0-for-13, and manager Davey Johnson suggested that Bordick, a career .258 hitter, might be pressing.

"I don't know if it was pressing or the anxiety of wanting to do well," said Bordick, who signed with the Orioles for $9 million over three years, then spent much of the spring answering questions about replacing Cal Ripken at shortstop.

"You put some added pressure on yourself because you want to do well. But you just have to play the game and have fun."

Bordick's luck may be getting better. In his first at-bat last night, he topped the ball and reached on an infield hit to the left side, loading the bases. Brady Anderson walked to force in a run and Roberto Alomar singled in another, with Bordick getting thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

He was called out on strikes in the fourth inning, lined a single to right in the sixth and reached on another infield hit in the eighth. His three hits were one more than he had coming into the game.

"I just have to be patient," Bordick said. "I want things to happen, I want to help this team win, but you can't get 10 hits in one at-bat. Sometimes, you have a tendency to want to do that."

Debut for Incaviglia

Pete Incaviglia made his first appearance this season after beginning the year on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring, starting in right field while Eric Davis got an extra night's rest for his sore left knee.

Incaviglia went 1-for-4, was called out on strikes twice and was lifted for a pinch runner in the seventh inning.

Davis, who has a stretched tendon behind the knee, said he felt good enough to play. "I'll get my share of at-bats," he said, smiling.

"He's OK," Johnson said. "His leg has loosened up a little bit, but I figure two days [off] in a row should help him. I'd use him if I had to win a game, but I'd rather give him off."

For now, Incaviglia's only means of getting in a game is as an outfielder, since Anderson continues to fill the designated hitter's role while "nursing" a broken rib.

Johnson said he will start Anderson in center field "probably within the week," though he hasn't spoken to him about it.

"He's getting a little frisky," Johnson said.

Warm welcome

Alomar was greeted with a loud ovation when introduced in the first inning, a stark contrast to the booing he heard in Kansas City earlier this week.

This was Alomar's first appearance at Camden Yards since his five-game suspension for spitting at umpire John Hirschbeck last year.

Alomar still hasn't fully recovered from a sprained left ankle that kept him inactive for most of the spring.

"You can play on an ankle when it's 85 or 90 percent, and it will progressively get stronger," Johnson said. "He's at least at the point where it's getting stronger. It's just a slow process."

Around the horn

Rocky Coppinger will throw again today to further test his right shoulder. He's eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, and Johnson said no decision has been made whether the right-hander will need an injury rehabilitation assignment. Anderson raised his average to .571 (8-for-14) against the Rangers. He also is 5-for-5 lifetime against John Burkett, last night's Rangers starter. Ripken had hit safely in all seven games this season before going 0-for-5 last night. He also had hit in 15 straight dating to last season and 23 of 24. The Orioles were without Alan Mills after the reliever collided with backup catcher Lenny Webtser while running before the game. Mills experienced stiffness in his left shoulder, but according to Johnson, was not thought to be seriously injured. His status for today's game is uncertain. Johnson said nothing has changed with right-hander Scott Erickson, who will pitch tomorrow on eight days' rest. Texas manager Johnny Oates said infielder Bill Ripken probably will start today because he's 10-for-26 lifetime against left-hander Jimmy Key. Right-hander Jimmy Haynes, who began last season as the Orioles' fifth starter, threw a seven-inning, complete-game shutout for the Rochester Red Wings on Wednesday night against Toledo. He allowed two hits, struck out 11 and faced one batter over the minimum. According to Rochester officials, Haynes' fastball was clocked in the low 90s. General manager Pat Gillick and director of player development Syd Thrift attended the Red Wings' game last night against Scranton, the first played at Rochester's Frontier Field.

Pub Date: 4/12/97

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