Bordick just fine with two or nine

Orioles notebook

Hot-hitting shortstop glad to bat anywhere in order

Ashley O's forgotten man

March 20, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Only a heavy rain and the absence of a tarpaulin yesterday could keep Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick from bumping up his average a few more points.

Bordick is batting .387 in 12 games, including two homers and five RBIs. He's hitting the ball with authority, just like last season. But when the games begin to count, he might be doing it from a different place in the lineup.

Once a resident of the ninth spot, Bordick did most of his living in the two hole in 1999 and enjoyed one of his most productive seasons with a .277 average, 10 homers and a career-high 77 RBIs. He batted ninth only twice, but most likely will be there with more frequency this summer.

As long as Delino DeShields remains healthy and with the club, he's likely to be the No. 2 hitter for much of the season.

Manager Mike Hargrove said he could envision Bordick either second or ninth, but will save that decision for later.

"I know mentally he can hit ninth, and a lot of guys can't do that," Hargrove said. "One thing, in the American League, ninth isn't a black hole like in the National League. And once you go through the order it doesn't really make much of a difference anyway except maybe one less at-bat a game."

One scenario could have Bordick hitting second against left-handed pitching, with the left-handed-hitting DeShields dropping to the bottom of the order. They'd reverse spots against a right-hander.

"The good thing is, with Bop [DeShields] healthy we're going to be able to do some great things as far as running the bases and stuff," Bordick said. "I told Grover [Hargrove] that, two or nine, I'm happy. I'm open-minded to whatever way the lineup goes."

Invisible man

"Oriole Magic" is taking on a whole new meaning in spring training. The illusion: making a 245-pound outfielder disappear.

When Billy Ashley signed a minor-league contract last month, he understood he'd be given a chance to win a spot with the Orioles.

He didn't expect any promises, just more than the seven at-bats he's received.

Yesterday's rainout assured that Ashley will go at least two more games without playing because the Orioles are off today.

"The way things have panned out so far, it doesn't look very promising," he said. "Seven at-bats over 16 games. What that means to me is that there probably isn't too much of an opportunity to make the team. And I don't know where it goes from there.

"I don't know if there's a job in Triple-A or not. I haven't talked to anybody about it, but nobody's led me to believe that I'm not going to be part of the organization."

He's having enough trouble being part of the spring lineup. Ashley, 29, has been making the trips but getting little playing time. He's appeared in six games, going 1-for-7 with a long home run in Viera.

The most obvious sign that he's far removed from the club's plans came in Port St. Lucie on Thursday, when Hargrove learned the New York Mets wanted to use a designated hitter.

Though the Mets were starting a left-handed pitcher, Hargrove chose left-handed-hitting Wayne Kirby rather than Ashley, who bats from the right side. Kirby has 26 at-bats this spring.

Ashley never got into the game. He sat at his locker afterward munching on two slices of pizza before dressing for the bus ride back to Fort Lauderdale. Another opportunity lost.

"I'm pretty much invisible. I do everything I need to do to get ready, but spend most of the time just watching the games," he said.

"Hopefully there'll be something near the end where all of a sudden it's going to be my turn to get the at-bats I need. But it doesn't look too good right now."

Ashley is having flashbacks to last year, when he was released by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays near the end of spring training. By then, his options were limited and he was left scrambling.

Once the minor-league Player of the Year at Triple-A Albuquerque, he was reduced to playing for the Independent League's St. Paul Saints.

"I made it a point that I didn't want to come to a camp and be put in a situation like I was last year," he said. "I come to camp, I get sent down with a week left, then I get released from the minor-league camp. They [the Orioles] told me that wouldn't be the case here, that I would have a legitimate chance to compete for a job and that Triple-A was definitely there as an option.

"Whether that holds true, we'll just play it out and wait and see. I would certainly hope that something like last year wouldn't happen again. For me, that would be pretty disappointing."

Erickson throws again

Scott Erickson threw in the outfield again yesterday, playing long toss with Bowie Baysox trainer Dave Walker for about eight minutes under the supervision of trainer Richie Bancells.

He had a similar session two days before, only this time he stretched it out to a greater distance and threw to Walker instead of Brady Anderson.

"He threw well. It looked like he was 90 or 100 feet," Hargrove said. "If you didn't know he had surgery, you'd never have known it."

Erickson, who isn't expected to return from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow until early May, also tossed a weighted ball against a trampoline in the clubhouse.

O's miss P. Martinez

With rain forcing the cancellation of Boston's game against the Orioles yesterday, Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez struck out eight in five innings of a minor-league game.

Pitching with Boston's Single-A Sarasota team against the Minnesota Twins' Single-A affiliate, Martinez gave up a bases-empty home run and no other hits or walks. He threw 50 pitches, 38 of them strikes.

The workout was necessary to keep the AL Cy Young winner on schedule to start Boston's April 4 opener against Seattle.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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