Bordick talks to Ripken about infield thoughts Free agent says he isn't seeking blessing

December 12, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Mike Bordick took an important step toward deciding if he would like to become an Oriole by phoning incumbent shortstop Cal Ripken last night.

"It went kind of just like I expected," Bordick said of his conversation with Ripken. "I basically wanted to get ahold of him and learn about the organization. He's a great team player, and if that ever happened where he had to move to third base, I think he'd do that to help the team."

Since becoming a free agent last week, Bordick has expressed a desire to speak with Ripken about the future Hall of Famer's potential move to third base. Bordick said last week that he wouldn't feel comfortable replacing Ripken at short unless he knows Ripken was comfortable with the move, too.

Bordick left a message at Ripken's home last night, and Ripken returned the call shortly thereafter. The Orioles have been upfront about their interest in Bordick, and met with Ripken nearly three weeks ago to discuss his future at shortstop.

Bordick, who made $1.8 million last year, said he was not looking for Ripken's blessing.

"I don't know if that's what I really wanted," Bordick said. "I don't know if I wanted a blessing over the phone. I wanted more knowledge of the Orioles. We didn't really get into the personal side of it. I'm very happy with how the conversation went."

Bordick said he has no further plans to speak with Ripken about the move, and he's not sure how the talk will affect

whether he stays with the Oakland Athletics or move elsewhere.

"I don't know if I'm ever going to feel comfortable about this with the Orioles or any other team," Bordick said. "Until things start happening, I don't know."

Assistant general manager Kevin Malone said the Orioles have not made an offer to Bordick and were not planning to do so until the two shortstops discussed the possibilities.

"We are waiting for Mike and Cal to discuss the possibility of Bordick becoming our shortstop," Malone said. "They'll make of it what they want, and we'll hear about it afterward. If I'm Mike Bordick, I'd want to do the same thing.

"I'd want to know Cal's feelings. There's a lot of respect for Cal and the position of shortstop. If Mike Bordick is being considered play that position for the Baltimore Orioles, a position Cal Ripken has been in for many, many years, it would be important to talk to Cal about it. We'll wait and see how their conversation goes, and at that point reason one way or the other."

The Orioles met with Bordick and his wife in Portland, Maine, over the weekend and they continue to speak with his agent. Bordick's representative said he last spoke with general manager Pat Gillick on Tuesday night, but the conversation yielded no new developments.

Bordick, 31, is regarded as one of the top defensive shortstops in the game, and is a career .258 hitter. He has played seven seasons for the A's and batted .240 with a career-high 54 RBIs in 1996.

If the Orioles do not land Bordick, free agent Tim Naehring is a candidate to play third base for the team next year.

Naehring has an offer from the Cleveland Indians worth up to $13.5 million for four years, but he would have to move to second base and would prefer to play third. According to a source, Gillick told Naehring's agent to hold off for 24 hours before making a decision on the Indians' offer.

So, this could be the day the Orioles decide the left side of their infield for next season.

In other Orioles news:

The club is getting closer to having a deal ready for Pete Incaviglia. The Orioles continued discussions with Incaviglia's agent, Tony Attanasio, and Malone said the sides have agreed that the right-handed hitter would be used primarily as a pinch hitter and occasionally a designated hitter against left-handers.

"We know Inky is going to be a role player with the Orioles and we're very happy to do that with a contending team," Attanasio said. "There are two other teams interested that are not as competitive as the Orioles, and he may get to play more with one of them, but Inky's been around a while now, and he wants the ring."

Incaviglia, 33, hit .303 in 33 at- bats with the Orioles after being acquired in August. He is a lifetime .247 hitter, but has averaged 20 homers a year over 10 major- league seasons.

"We think we're on the same page," Malone said. "We foresee us coming together in the next couple of weeks. We don't foresee any problems. We just haven't ironed out all the details yet."

According to league sources, the Anaheim Angels have expressed interest in Orioles free agent Eddie Murray. The Orioles said they maintain some interest in bringing back the future Hall of Famer, but that move would depend on the team's financial situation and future acquisitions.

Pub Date: 12/12/96

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