Segui plans surgery right after season

THE BALTIMORE SUN

David Segui has decided to undergo surgery on his injured left wrist immediately after the Orioles' season ends next month, with assurances from doctors that he'll be ready for spring training in 2004.

Segui has been on the disabled list since July 26 with a damaged tendon in his wrist, but he took batting practice yesterday and wants to return to the lineup. He's been examined twice in the past week, including Monday by Dr. Thomas Graham of the Union Memorial Hospital hand center.

Graham will perform the same surgery as last year, when Segui appeared in only 26 games. By having it done the day after the season finale on Sept. 28, he expects to begin swinging a bat by December, "and that's when I do my serious hitting anyway," he said.

"He assured me that it would be healed before spring training. That was my concern," said Segui, who also was examined in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after the Orioles completed their series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in St. Petersburg.

The discomfort "is still there," but the doctor "didn't think I could do any considerable damage to it by playing."

Segui has one season left on the four-year, $28 million contract he signed on Dec. 20, 2000. He indicated at the time that he'd probably retire when it ran out, and those plans apparently won't change unless he can play in Kansas City and be closer to his two children, Cory and Haley.

The desire to spend more time with them is pushing Segui toward retirement faster than the injuries that have limited him to 175 games in three seasons with the Orioles.

Segui took exception with a letter that appeared in The Sun last weekend, questioning why he cited the need to be with his children as a reason to retire, since Cory just finished another stint as the Orioles' bat boy.

"I've seen him three weeks out of the whole summer. I'm glad I'm not [the writer's] son, where he thinks three weeks from April to October is a good amount of visitation with your children," Segui said.

"I didn't even have the opportunity to do that with my daughter because I didn't have anyone to watch her. The only reason he was able to come was because the Orioles have been so kind to let him stay here. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't be able to see him hardly at all. I'm the kind of parent who'd like to spend every day with my kids. Unfortunately, in a divorce situation, I don't have the opportunity.

"[The writer] can rip me for getting hurt all he wants, but I'm a little sensitive about that part. Anybody who has children should understand. Whether I'm making $7 million or not, you can't put a price tag on spending time with your kids."

Conine, Mora close

Jeff Conine and Melvin Mora also took batting practice yesterday, as the Orioles draw closer to having three veterans returning to the lineup and providing late-inning options off the bench.

Bursitis in his right biceps area has prevented Conine from playing since an Aug. 8 doubleheader in Boston.

"I haven't had any pain today, so I expect things to go well," he said before going outside to hit. "Some days I had some lingering pain in there, but yesterday it was pretty much gone."

Conine expects to be in the lineup tonight. "The pain was from inflammation," he said, "so if the inflammation is gone, there's no reason they can't toss me in there."

Mora went on the disabled list Aug. 1 with a bruised right hand, which was too sore last week to hit soft tosses.

Fordyce now RBI guy

With his RBI total up to 20, catcher Brook Fordyce is 12 ahead of last season's final count. He also topped his 2001 figure.

Fordyce had an RBI in four consecutive starts before going 0-for-2 with a walk during an Aug. 12 loss against Tampa Bay. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI Friday against the New York Yankees, singling off Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera, and hit his fifth homer on Saturday.

With a shortage of right-handed hitters in the lineup, Fordyce batted sixth three times last week, which he hadn't done since April 8, 2001.

Fordyce is quick to point out that he hit fourth two months after the Orioles acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in 2000. He also batted fifth.

With averages of .209 and .231 his past two seasons in Baltimore, and limited run production, Fordyce figured to stay at the bottom of the lineup when he wasn't sitting on the bench. But circumstances have made him a regular, and drawn him closer to the heart of the lineup whenever the opposition starts a left-hander.

"I've gotten some pitches that I've had some quality swings on and had better results than a single," said Fordyce, who is hitting .277. "I'm just trying to hit the ball hard and stay behind it and inside it. I know I haven't been hitting a lot of home runs, but they'll come with quality at-bats and good swings."

Around the horn

Second baseman Brian Roberts was scratched from the lineup because of a stomachache. Luis Matos batted first. ... Tampa Bay's 11 wins over the Orioles is the most it's had against any foe in a single season.

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