ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Scott Kamieniecki isn't the only arm to give the Orioles reason for pause.
Citing a sore shoulder, manager Ray Miller did not start shortstop Mike Bordick for only the fifth time this season in yesterday's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay. Miller said he may rest Bordick at least once during the upcoming two-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
"I thought I'd give him a day off. He's been going at it pretty hard," said Miller, who suggested Bordick's condition is not serious. "Bordy's hard on himself and he's such a grinder. I don't want him to wear down."
Bordick acknowledged shoulder soreness before yesterday's game, but insisted "today should take care of it." Bordick has frequently resisted down time, but Miller may take a more aggressive stance than predecessor Davey Johnson.
Bordick played 153 games last season but appeared to wear down late, hitting only .137 in August. Miller ordered Bordick not to take ground balls yesterday. Even though he wasn't starting, Bordick persisted. A compromise was reached. Bordick fielded grounders but did not make any throws.
After committing only one error in his first 29 games, Bordick has had one in each of his past three starts. Two of them came on throws that fell short and off line, though first baseman Rafael Palmeiro had a chance at scooping them.
After second baseman Roberto Alomar was booed heavily in Saturday night's game and icon Cal Ripken followed by receiving a loud ovation, Miller insisted he wouldn't again bat the two next to each other in a road game. The sentiment must have passed quickly. Alomar batted in the fifth slot yesterday while Ripken again batted sixth.
Miller remains sensitive to Alomar, still haunted by his confrontation with umpire John Hirschbeck on the final weekend of the 1996 season. Just as Ripken's arrival has been feted locally as just short of a civic holiday, Alomar's day of infamy is still fresh here.
"When we went to Texas, there were between 40,000 and 50,000 people there, and the fans waited three hours for Cal Ripken's autograph," Miller said. "Then the game starts and 47,000 boo Robbie. Well, Robbie signs autographs, too. I don't think it's affected him on the field, but it's got to be hard to swallow on a daily basis."
The Devil Rays have had their nerves rubbed raw by regular criticism of funky Tropicana Field. Seemingly every team that comes to town takes a shot at the slanted dome and its circular catwalks that have come into play four times this season. When Miller described the setting as "arena baseball" on Friday, Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild had heard enough.
"I've read some stuff about our stadium and I think there's a lack of credibility and a lack of consistency in what's being said," Rothschild groused without citing Miller by name. "We've done a great job with this park and to read stuff about the stadium getting blasted in the paper by people who should sometimes keep their mouths shut is a bunch of crap. I'm getting tired of reading it."
Perhaps Rothschild protests too much. The expansion Devil Rays find the place so comfortable that they entered Sunday on an eight-game home losing streak. Of course, playing poorly never discouraged a manager from talking about side issues.
Miller describes the Trop as "the brightest dome I've ever been in" and gave it high marks when compared to the Astrodome and Montreal's Olympic Stadium.
B. J. Surhoff's sixth-inning home run off Devil Rays starter Wilson Alvarez not only brought the Orioles within 3-2, it gave him 100 homers for his career. Surhoff's fourth homer of the season was also his 43rd in three seasons with the Orioles. He homered 57 times in nine seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The homers by Surhoff and Joe Carter give the Orioles at least one in each of their last 12 games. They have hit 21 total in that span. The Baltimore record for consecutive games with a home run is 17, set in 1994 and repeated last season. The Orioles could tie the mark at home next Friday against the Devil Rays.
Around the horn
The Orioles were shut out for five innings yesterday before breaking loose for their second set of back-to-back home runs this season. They extended a streak of 102 games without being shut out, the longest streak in the majors. Conversely, the scuffling Devil Rays have suffered a major league-high five shutouts this season. The Tampa Bay press corps will have to grow some thicker skin if it's going to hang around major-league clubhouses. When Mike Mussina quipped following Saturday's game that it was time to speak with "the idiots with pens and pads," the comment made print. The Devil Rays' three home runs yesterday came from three players -- Kevin Stocker, Wade Boggs and Quinton McCracken -- who combined for 11 homers in 1,182 at-bats last season. Boggs' first home run of the season moved him into a tie with George Sisler for 36th on the career hit list with 2,812. Ripken's third-inning error made him the American League's last regular third baseman to commit a miscue. It came on his 68th chance of the season. In case anyone is still counting, ex-Oriole outfielder Jerome Walton went on the disabled list Friday for the 10th time in his 10-year career.
Pub Date: 5/11/98