The Orioles' Glenn Davis defended himself yesterday against a charge that he attempted to injure Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez while sliding into home plate Friday night.
"The last thing I want to do is ruin or cause conflict with his career," Davis said. "Certainly, I was not trying to hurt him. Unfortunately, it wound up like that. I hope he's OK."
Davis slid, spikes high, into Rodriguez in the second inning of the Orioles' 9-2 victory. Davis was thrown out by Texas infielder Jeff Frye by some 10 feet when he attempted to score from second on a ground single by Bill Ripken just past second base. The Rangers' All-Star catcher left the game the next inning with a strained ligament in his left knee and a laceration of the left thigh.
"It looked like he tried to hurt me," Rodriguez said yesterday. "He was out by 10 feet."
Davis tried to call Rodriguez after the game, but the catcher declined to take the call.
"He's hurt me already," said Rodriguez, explaining why he wouldn'taccept the call.
Rodriguez underwent a magnetic resonance imaging yesterday and Orioles team physician Dr. Charles Silberstein said there was no serious injury to the knee ligament. Rodriguez could be available to play as early as today.
The Rangers made a roster move to compensate for the loss. They called up catcher Ray Stephens from the Triple-A Oklahoma City 89ers and optioned outfielder David Hulse to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers. Hulse had been called up by the Rangers on Thursday.
Rangers manager Toby Harrah accused Davis not of malicious intent, but of a "poor slide."
"It may have been the saving grace that he [Davis] was closer to the groin than the knee," Harrah said.
After the game Friday, Harrah had said: "You don't see many slides like that often. Most of us learned how to slide in Little League."
Curiously, three different Rangers pitchers hit three different Orioles batters after the home-plate incident.
Brady Anderson was hit by Todd Burns two batters into the Orioles'third inning. Cal Ripken was hit by Danilo Leon in the sixth, and Leo Gomez was hit by Floyd Bannister in the seventh.
Ripken was hit with two outs and a runner on third. He was clearly upset by the inside pitch.
"Why would we want to hit Ripken?" Harrah said. "We don't want to hit Ripken."
Orioles manager Johnny Oates said he wasn't concerned about possible retaliation by the Rangers.
"It's part of the game," he said. "Drop it. You're going to get somebody hurt."
Television replays showed that Davis' right foot rammed hard into Rodriguez's left leg, above the knee. Davis, who does not have a reputation as a dirty player, said he tried to hit Rodriguez's left shinguard, just above the foot, to avoid injury to either player.
"[But] he went down with me and I hit him up high," Davis said.
"I don't like to see that happen to anybody. I know what it's like to miss time."
"I know in my heart my intentions. I hope he's OK. If it happened again, I wouldn't do anything different."