Bordick gets shot, then hits one No. 9 hitter bats second, homers

Orioles Notebook

Clyburn gets 1st hit

August 31, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick took his usual glance at the bottom of the lineup card hanging outside manager Ray Miller's office yesterday. Not seeing his name, he made the logical assumption.

"I thought, 'Geez, maybe I'm not playing,' " he said.

Then, Bordick scrolled higher and understood. Rather than bat in his customary ninth spot, he had been moved to second against Kansas City left-hander Chris Haney. Brady Anderson has been hitting there, but wasn't used until pinch hitting against reliever Ricky Bones in the seventh inning to rest his sore right knee.

Miller also was elevating a player who began yesterday hitting .353 with a homer and three RBIs in 17 career at-bats against Haney.

"I'm trying to put a guy up there who can handle the bat a little bit. Just mix it up a little," Miller said. "I thought about doing that earlier in the year, especially when you're not scoring because it gives you a chance to move the leadoff guy over if he gets on."

Bordick's reaction to yesterday's move? "I couldn't believe it. I called home," he said, jokingly. "The one consistent thing this year is me being in the nine hole."

Saying he wouldn't change his usual approach, Bordick also didn't change his treatment of Haney, lining a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats leading off the third inning. He also walked in the fifth.

In his past 17 games with an at-bat, Bordick is 16-for-52 (.308) with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs. His 10 homers this season are a career high.

Clyburn gets first start, hit

Years from now, Danny Clyburn may tell of making his first major-league start, and ripping a liner off the wall for his first hit. Yesterday, he didn't need to embellish it. He took pride in beating out a slow hopper to the left of the mound in the fourth inning.

Clyburn also threw a one-hop strike from right field to the plate that held Jeff Conine at third, drawing a loud ovation. He is regarded as a below-average defensive player, and Miller's concerns were heightened by playing him in right rather than left, where Clyburn is more comfortable. But Miller is short on outfield options.

He wanted to sit B. J. Surhoff, who has appeared in every game and is 2-for-33 in his past nine games, and 22-for-116 since July 26, but the only alternative was playing utility infielder Jeff Reboulet in left. Rich Becker started in center field for Anderson, Eric Davis served as the designated hitter while trying to ignore pain in both hamstrings, and Willie Greene can't play the outfield because of a strained groin muscle.

"I'm really concerned. B. J.'s really tired and I can't get him out of there," Miller said, adding that Surhoff might not play tomorrow against Chicago left-hander Jim Parque. That's the day rosters are expanded and Lyle Mouton will arrive from Triple-A Rochester.

Greene aggravated his injury when he slipped on the rubberized surface near the right-field railing during Friday's game.

"It's been sore for a couple of days. Right now I'm taking some pills to let the inflammation go away, and hopefully I'll be 100 percent in a couple of days," he said.

Keeping Surhoff in the lineup also was made easier by his .529 career average against Haney, including four RBIs in 17 at-bats before drawing a bases-loaded walk in the first inning yesterday. Plus there was his continued excellence in left, which made Miller leery of moving him to right so Clyburn could play his natural position.

"There's no one better," Miller said. "Days when he doesn't get any hits, like [Saturday], he makes two unbelievable plays."

'More pliable' bench sought

Looking ahead to next year, and taking into account the problems that injuries have caused this season, Miller said he'd like the bench to be "more pliable, more healthy." Greene was used as an example, a player who can fill in at multiple positions, though he hasn't remained healthy, either.

"A little more youth in the lineup would be nice, but the key is the bench," he said. "The situation I'm in right now is pretty much the same it was in May. You've got guys who need a rest, but everybody on the bench is hurt."

Citing how the season becomes a grind, both physically and emotionally, Miller conceded the club's age is a factor. "There are a lot of injuries that are age-related, I guess, but that's no excuse. You've got to play through it."

Miller also said shifting Anderson to left field and moving Surhoff to right would be "a consideration" next year, but only to make room in center for "a quality guy." Club officials have been critical of Anderson playing too shallow, though he's forced to do so now to alleviate the strain on his knee.

"You don't just move anybody. It's got to be an offensive as well as a defensive upgrade," Miller said. "Realistically, you'd like to see a right-handed power hitter in the outfield."

Around the horn

Before the game, the Orioles inducted Lee MacPhail, Lee May and Bobby Grich into their Hall of Fame, bringing the total to 35 since its inception in 1977. Roberto Alomar stopped an 0-for-11 skid with a fifth-inning double, but he's only 2-for-20 in his past five games, and 6-for-38 in his past 10. "He's just getting on top of the ball a little bit," Miller said. Jeff Montgomery saved all three games of the series. Orioles pinch hitters are 22-for-97 (.227), but have four hits in their past seven at-bats, and five in their past 12. The Royals put catcher Sal Fasano on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring and purchased the contract of catcher Hector Ortiz from Triple-A Omaha. To make room, pitcher Hipolito Pichardo was transferred to the 60-day DL. Fasano was injured running out a double Saturday.

Pub Date: 8/31/98

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