When the Orioles learned that Miguel Tejada's fractured left wrist would likely keep the shortstop out until August, they lost more than their most accomplished hitter for longer than they expected. They also lost their best trade chip.
Tejada had a magnetic resonance imaging test on his wrist yesterday, and though team officials said that it showed no further damage, Tejada will be shut down for at least a month until he is allowed to perform baseball activities. That means his return will almost certainly be pushed back until after the July 31 trade deadline.
While the Orioles front office, led by new president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, never said that it planned to trade Tejada, the club was certainly prepared to listen to offers. Tejada was nearly moved before the trade deadline last season.
"Right now, we're focusing on getting him healthy and helping us," said vice president Jim Duquette when asked whether the injury means Tejada will remain an Oriole at least through the regular season. "But we realize that it's going to be a while."
The Orioles did get a couple of calls inquiring about Tejada before he fractured his wrist when he got hit by a fastball from San Diego Padres reliever Doug Brocail last Wednesday. However, it is unlikely that a contending team will be willing to meet the Orioles' high asking price for a player who has been out for an extended period. The Orioles could try to trade him after the non-waiver trade deadline, but Tejada would have to clear waivers first, and that is unlikely. For his part, Tejada, who will wear a splint for the next two weeks, reiterated that he doesn't want to go anywhere.
"It's something that I don't really pay attention to," Tejada said. "I signed here for six years. I got 2 1/2 years to go. I just work here. I want to be here with this team. I don't know why there is so much trade talk about myself. When I signed here, they signed me for six years. ... I really want to see my name just in one position and with the team I really want to win [with], and that's this team, the Orioles. That's who I want to help."
Tejada originally hoped he would miss only 15 days, but he learned yesterday that it will be much longer. When Tejada went to the disabled list Friday, it ended his 1,152 consecutive-games-played streak, the fifth longest of all time. His achievement was documented in a scoreboard video tribute last night.
"It's pretty tough for me," said Tejada, who said he holds no grudge against Brocail, who called Tejada the day after hitting him and apologized. "I like to play baseball. That's my life, baseball. I like to be on the field. But all I could say that the day it happened, there was nothing I could do. ... I wish I could be in a good position when the time I come back, it won't take me long to get ready to play baseball."
Tejada worked out yesterday and said he'll stay in Baltimore for the next couple of weeks to train. He said he isn't experiencing any pain, but vowed to listen to the doctors so he doesn't aggravate the injury.
"I'm going to be doing that every day, running and lifting weights," Tejada said. "When the doctor says I am ready to swing the bat, I'm going to be ready. I don't think it will take me long to be on the field."
The timing is particularly rough for Tejada, who said that he has been impressed with how the team has been playing under interim manager Dave Trembley.
"Trembley is doing a great job," Tejada said. "I think that something that he has been doing is respect the players, talk to the players. Everybody is happy with what Trembley is doing. I think the guys are just giving a chance to him because he really respects us. It's something different that he's doing now. The team really responds to him. You saw it in Arizona. They really played hard."
Trembley said the club is going to have to rally around Tejada.
"I think it's an unfortunate situation," he said. " Obviously everybody knows what he meant to our club and what he meant to baseball, when you take your number four guy out of the lineup on a daily basis, we're going to have to regroup a little bit. We'll get by the best we can, and when Miggie's ready to return he'll go back into the lineup."