PHILADELPHIA - Mike Bordick's reward for a four-year offensive makeover came late Saturday night as he rode the team bus after a 13-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Orioles shortstop learned that he had received a delayed invitation to tomorrow's All-Star Game in Atlanta, an honor he quietly shared with his teammates, his coaches and his recent past.
"I'm pretty excited," Bordick said before getting three singles in the Orioles' 5-4 win over the Phillies yesterday. "I'm kind of surprised I'm going."
Bordick replaces injured Seattle Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez to become a first-time All-Star less than two weeks before his 35th birthday. He will serve as the Orioles' only representative as third baseman Cal Ripken notified Major League Baseball officials that his sore back will prevent him participating in the game or its ceremonies.
"I hope everybody stays up until about 1 a.m. to watch me play," quipped Bordick, suggesting he will have to wait his turn behind Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and the Boston Red Sox's Nomar Garciaparra.
Bordick carries a .303 average, career-high 14 home runs and 54 RBIs to Atlanta. His .498 slugging percentage ranks third on the team behind only Charles Johnson and Albert Belle.
A pending free agent, Bordick has developed in mid-career through an intensive off-season conditioning program and a willingness to remake himself with the help of Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley and his predecessor, Rick Down.
The shortstop has opened his stance significantly since coming to the Orioles as a free agent before the 1997 season and has added power through weightlifting and winter workouts.
"He plays every inning of every game," said Crowley. "Nobody wants to play the game more than he does."
Bordick cited the contributions of Crowley and infield coach Sam Perlozzo.
"I know what the All-Star Game is all about," said Bordick, a .258 career hitter who achieved his career high with 77 RBIs last season. "It certainly means a great deal to me."
After insisting he was not disappointed by initially being overlooked last Wednesday, Bordick seemed almost embarrassed at yesterday's attention. "My number one priority has always been to win," he said, a bit uncomfortable talking about honors within a fourth-place season. "I've always looked at my goal each season as making the playoffs. The ultimate goal is the World Series."
Bordick becomes the second team elder in two years to make his first All-Star Game. Left fielder B.J. Surhoff was selected for his first game last year. Bordick becomes the first Orioles shortstop to be named since Ripken in 1996.