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Tejada plays through shoulder pain


BOSTON - Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada woke up yesterday morning with the same pain in his left shoulder that radiated after he dived into home plate during Monday night's game against the Boston Red Sox.

Was it enough to prevent him from playing? Not a chance.

Tejada appeared in his 807th consecutive game last night, the longest streak in the majors. Tejada still batted third, still providing a presence in the lineup that few teams can match.

"I'm OK," he said before visiting the trainers room. "It's not much pain. Just a little."

Tejada, who went 0-for-3 with a walk last night, risked serious injury twice in the first three innings Monday night, choosing both times to dive into the plate rather than slide feetfirst.

He was ruled out in the first inning, though replays appeared to show his left hand sneaked around catcher Jason Varitek before the tag. He scored in the third, his body hitting the ground so hard as he veered to the right that it shook him up.

"I thought that was the only way I could score," Tejada said. "The catcher was right in the middle. I didn't want to hit him. That's why I went to the side."

Manager Lee Mazzilli and head trainer Richie Bancells rushed from the dugout to check on Tejada. The Orioles could ill afford to have another key player on the disabled list, especially one as valuable as Tejada.

"I was very concerned," Mazzilli said. "After the way the injuries have gone, to lose someone like that, for a split second your heart stops. We've got to quit having him slide headfirst into home plate. That's not a good idea."

Tejada, Roberts lead voting

Tejada leads American League shortstops in early All-Star balloting. Brian Roberts leads second basemen with 433,461 votes, compared with 432,011 for the Texas Rangers' Alfonso Soriano.

Rafael Palmeiro ranks third among designated hitters, Javy Lopez is fourth among catchers, Melvin Mora is fourth among third basemen, and Sammy Sosa is eighth in outfield voting.

Bigbie: 'I feel all right'

Weather permitting, Larry Bigbie will take the field today and perform some baseball-related activities while recovering from a strained left hamstring that put him on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.

Bigbie, who's batting .241 in 33 games, has been receiving treatment and resting. He suffered the strain May 12 in Chicago and missed five games, then played in six before going to the bench again.

"I feel all right," he said. "I haven't tested it yet because we're really not in a rush now. As far as walking around and all my treatments and the different strength things we do, they're all going good. I look to be back when my time is up."

To send or not to send?

The formula sounds simple coming from Orioles third base coach Tom Trebelhorn.

Asked how he determines when to send a runner home, Trebelhorn said, "Two outs, don't stop." It's a little more complicated than that, and it became an issue after two Orioles were thrown out at the plate in the first two innings Monday, keeping the Red Sox close before they fell behind 7-0 in the third.

Trebelhorn didn't second-guess himself in the first inning, when he sent Tejada on B.J. Surhoff's two-out single to right field. Trot Nixon has the strongest arm of the Red Sox's outfielders, but replays showed Tejada was safe.

Trebelhorn wasn't as sure about his second-inning decision, when David Newhan never reached the plate after Melvin Mora's two-out single to left.

"The only one I regret was Newhan because it's such a short left field, but he had a good break and has good speed," Trebelhorn said.

The Orioles' inability to hit in the clutch while being swept by the Detroit Tigers over the weekend might have influenced Trebelhorn as much as the number of outs. He also took into account that it was early in the game and the Orioles weren't trailing.

"We hadn't been getting any two-out hits lately," he said. "The Detroit series, and actually the Seattle series, too, was fairly slow at third, so I kind of forgot what the heck to do.

"Early in the game, two outs, you like to force the defense to make a play. From the fifth inning on, it's different. But early, you try to jump on them and try to get on the board every chance you have."

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