Scott Manning tried his best to be diplomatic about Chico Borja as he spoke yesterday morning from his Wichita, Kan., hotel room.
But it wasn't easy.
Manning had been sidelined for the second time in less than two years by a hard Borja tackle, and he remembered how the Wichita Wings midfielder put Tim Wittman out for most of the 1989 playoffs with a hit from behind.
Manning, the Baltimore Blast's outstanding goalkeeper, will be out three to four weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee after being hit by Borja in Friday night's 7-6 overtime loss to the Wings in Wichita.
Borja ran into Manning early in the fourth quarter, but Manning finished the game.
When asked if he thought Borja intentionally tried to bowl him over, Manning said: "I don't know. I was going for the ball."
Then Manning added: "I don't have to defend Chico Borja's honor. His past performances speak for themselves."
Manning said his right foot got caught in the turf when Borja ran into him.
Blast trainer Marty McGinty said he sees Manning as being on a "day-to-day" basis after three weeks of rehabilitation.
Manning, Baltimore's most valuable player last season, has been superb since returning from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss eight of the first nine games this season.
"We've lost the best goalkeeper in the league for the second time this season, and it really hurts," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper.
Blast assistant general manager Drew Forrester said yesterday the Blast had no immediate plans to sign another goalkeeper. He said Cooper plans to go with backup goalkeeper Hank Henry until Manning returns.
If Henry should get hurt, Cooper could turn to Rusty Troy and Billy Ronson as backups. Troy and Ronson practiced in the goal when Manning was hurt earlier this season.
NOTES: In Friday night's overtime loss to Wichita (the second straight overtime setback at Wichita this season), Wittman had a chance to give the Blast a 7-4 lead with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in regulation on a breakaway.
Wichita's sixth attacker, Victor Moreland, was out of the goal and Wittman had a shot at an open net, but missed.
After failing to score, Wittman raised his hand in the air as if to signal to his teammates: "That's my fault. I should have scored."
Wichita rallied after the Wittman miss to score two goals to tie the game at six and force the overtime. Omar Gomez scored at 9:16 of the overtime off a free kick pass from Borja to give Wichita the sudden-death victory.