Amaral hobbling, Matos runs to help


Strange strained calf gives Bowie outfielder a shot

Bordick plays on

June 19, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles managed to get younger for their road trip, but not the way they had intended. They placed outfielder Rich Amaral on the 15-day disabled list yesterday and called up Luis Matos from Double-A Bowie.

Amaral, 38, apparently strained his left calf during Wednesday's game against Texas. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, raising his batting average to .217.

How the injury occurred remains a mystery to Amaral, who's eligible to return June 30.

"I don't remember doing it," he said. "The next day I got to the field and couldn't jog. It was a total shock to me."

"It wasn't getting any better," said manager Mike Hargrove, "so we decided to go ahead and DL him."

The Orioles already had a limited bench with only four extra position players, so they couldn't afford to carry Amaral while he was unavailable. Mark Lewis was used as a pinch runner in the ninth inning yesterday in one of the few moves that Hargrove could make with Cal Ripken given the day off.

"I can't help the team," Amaral said. "If I can't do anything, that's just really tying Grover's hands."

Matos, 21, already is on the 40-man roster, which worked in his favor yesterday. So did his ability to play all three outfield positions.

He opened the season at Triple-A Rochester, batting .171 in 11 games before being sent to Bowie. Matos began yesterday hitting .271 with seven doubles, five triples, two home runs and 33 RBIs in 48 games. He had batted .417 (15-for-36) with 10 RBIs since moving up to second in the order.

Bordick brushes off rumors

Mike Bordick hears the rumors and speculation. The trick, says the Orioles' shortstop, is not to get caught up in them.

Bordick's name has been mentioned in trade talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks, one of the clubs in contact with Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations. Bordick can become a free agent after this season, and he's one of the organization's most marketable commodities.

He's also been one of its best players, with a .301 average, 12 homers and 43 RBIs, in addition to his steady glove.

"I enjoy playing here," he said. "I've just kind of taken, not a not-caring approach, but trying to turn away from that. I believe so much about this team and what we can do if we stay together. I'm just trying not to pay any attention to that stuff. It's all part of the game.

"This last week we've been playing some really good baseball. Our pitching has been outstanding. And the pitching is what's going to carry us. Offensively, we're able to stay with anybody."

Bordick, who has started every game this season, ranks fifth in the American League in All-Star voting, with virtually no chance of being chosen by New York Yankees manager Joe Torre with marquee players like Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Alex Rodriguez creating a logjam at the position.

"Those guys are the All-Stars. They're the best in the game and they do that stuff every year," Bordick said.

"I don't really think about it. It would mean a lot and you talk about that stuff, but it's just like everybody in here saying, `What if we won the World Series?' Stuff's got to happen before you can even talk about it."

Ripken rests before flight

Ripken received another day off, with Jeff Conine starting at third base against Anaheim right-hander Seth Etherton. Conine also played third on June 11, and again three nights later when Ripken served as the designated hitter.

Hargrove said yesterday's decision was based only on giving Ripken some rest after a night game, with a cross-country flight also awaiting the team.

Ripken, still dealing with residual discomfort from September back surgery that he has likened to a "pebble in my shoe," has batted .364 (12-for-33) with three homers in his past nine games.

Advice for J. Johnson

If Hargrove could make some changes to Jason Johnson, one of the starting points would be the pitcher's tendency to be too hard on himself.

"That's just an intense desire to do very, very well," Hargrove said of Johnson, who's 0-5 with a 5.93 ERA. "Jason's a good pitcher. He's got good stuff and we like him a lot. It's just a matter of him getting it all together."

Hargrove dismissed the suggestion that Johnson, 26, needed to become more mature, and said he didn't believe the right-hander would benefit from another stay in the minors. Johnson began the season at Triple-A Rochester after a poor spring, losing his status as the No. 3 starter.

"We don't have anybody better to take his place," Hargrove said. "I don't think Jason needs to be sent down to improve his maturity. I feel very uncomfortable even talking about it because it's that much of a non-issue."

Molina, meet Molina

Gabe Molina made a little baseball history on Saturday, though not worthy of hanging a banner on the warehouse. When he pitched to Anaheim's Bengie Molina leading off the ninth inning, it was the first time a Molina had faced a Molina in a major-league game.

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