The initial prognosis was at least three days, maybe five. A stop on the disabled list wasn't out of the question. The Orioles, their pitching staff riddled with injuries for much of the year, now were bracing for life without their shortstop.
It was a shorter crisis than feared.
Mike Bordick said he expects to return to the lineup today, batting in his customary ninth spot. A sprained left foot and ankle kept him out of the two games in Boston, but he said he was available to face Atlanta last night.
"I'm doing a lot better," he said. "I'm going to run around here a little bit and test it out; pushing off, stuff like that. I can pretty much walk pain-free now."
Bordick gladly will put this week behind him. It hasn't been kind.
He fouled a ball off the inside of his left foot Sunday and was scratched from the lineup the next night. Pronouncing himself ready after batting practice Tuesday, he was injured again in the fourth inning while tagging out Seattle's Rich Amaral on an attempted steal, leaning on trainer Richie Bancells as he limped into the clubhouse. Sliding wide to avoid Bordick's glove, Amaral's back leg hit Bordick's left shin, causing the ankle and foot to roll.
Jeff Reboulet started at short the past three games, going 2-for-8 and playing flawlessly in the field. It was only the second time this year he had started consecutive games, all this week. He also filled in for second baseman Roberto Alomar on Sunday before taking over for Bordick the following night.
While Bordick will be glad to see this week pass, he had no reason to want May to end. A slow starter his two seasons in Baltimore, Bordick caught fire last month, hitting .303 (27-for-89) to raise his average to .263.
Brave new Guillen world
Shortstop Ozzie Guillen has landed on his feet -- and at times, atop the Braves' order -- since being released by the Orioles May 1.
Guillen had started the last five games at shortstop and batted leadoff until Walt Weiss returned last night. A free swinger, he was forced to become more patient, something the Orioles had preached since spring training.
"I have to try to get on base as much as I can so guys can drive me in. You get on base, you have a lot of chances to score," said Guillen, who is hitting .214 (12-for-56) with six walks.
"I tried to copy Walt Weiss [who is hitting .336]. For a week I watched what kind of approach he had at the plate and I tried to have the same approach."
He got off to the same slow start. Guillen was 1-for-16 with the Orioles before being let go when the club decided to add a third catcher. He was 1-for-14 in his first eight games with Atlanta, but had gone 11-for-42 (.262) in his past 11.
"I always enjoy myself as long as I have a uniform on and we're winning," he said. "I don't have any regrets about what happened in Baltimore. They gave me an opportunity to be in the big leagues this year."
Facing up to challenge
Catcher Chris Hoiles can relate to the pain of being hit in the face with a baseball. He also understands the mental challenge that comes with returning to the field, something teammate Mike Mussina will deal with today when he pitches for the first time since suffering a fractured nose and laceration above his right eye when struck by Sandy Alomar's line drive May 14.
"I was hit in the eye by a pitch, either in '89 or '90 [at Rochester] and four days later I was back in there. But you're going to think about it. It's hard not to. But the best thing to do is just get back in there and try not to think about it," Hoiles said.
"I don't think it'll change the way he pitches, but I think it'll definitely play on his mind a little bit until he gets a few innings under his belt. He's a strong kid, though, mentally tough. I'm sure it'll be weird for him the first few innings, but he's going to get over it."
A sheet of paper sat on manager Ray Miller's desk yesterday, detailing the suspensions handed out for two bench-clearing brawls Tuesday between Anaheim and Kansas City, which resulted in 12 ejections. He took special interest in the five-game sentence given to Royals shortstop Felix Martinez, who was sent to Triple-A and will serve his time when recalled.
In the meantime, the Royals are able to use a replacement for Martinez, rather than be short a player, as the Orioles were when pitchers Armando Benitez and Alan Mills were suspended for last month's brawl in New York.
"Why do they have an active slot in his spot? I don't think that's fair," Miller said.
Both managers received eight-game suspensions, the same as Benitez. Among players, Martinez received the stiffest sentence. The other two Royals, pitchers Jim Pittsley and Scott Service, were issued two games apiece.
The Angels also got off relatively easy. Pitcher Jack McDowell's four-game suspension was the harshest among players, and it doesn't have an immediate effect because he's on the disabled list.
"I'm just a little disappointed they won't play short as long as I did," Miller said.
Around the horn
Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds didn't start for the fifth straight game because of muscle spasms in his back. Asked how Hammonds was progressing, Miller said, "I went back there [trainer's room] and he was packed in heat." The Crown High School all-star game will begin approximately 30 minutes after tomorrow's game. Members of the North and South teams will receive bats from Harold Baines and Lenny Webster. Before the game, coach Eddie Murray's No. 33 will be retired in a ceremony that Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver is scheduled to attend. Fans will receive a No. 33 commemorative pin. Atlanta's Andres Galarraga went 2-for-4, his 23rd multi-hit game this season.
Pub Date: 6/06/98