Matos is thrown into center of things


Arriving rookie replaces hurting Anderson

Bordick moves to top of order

June 20, 2000|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Brady Anderson's sore left quadriceps, Rich Amaral's move to the disabled list and the presence of opposing left-hander Mark Mulder persuaded manager Mike Hargrove to give center fielder Luis Matos his first major-league start while installing Mike Bordick as leadoff hitter for the first time with the Orioles.

Bordick has avoided the extended slumps that have affected his previous three seasons with the Orioles. He entered last night less than satisfied with his recent production but still having hit safely in 18 of his last 22 games for a .291 average and a .301 mark overall.

"I try to take the same approach wherever I am in the lineup," Bordick said. "My goal is to maintain as consistent an approach as I can, from my preparation to my at-bats."

While the Orioles got their first glimpse of Bordick in the leadoff spot, they were even more excited about seeing Matos' major-league debut.

Matos was promoted from Double-A Bowie on Sunday. He batted .171 in 11 games at Rochester before being dropped to Bowie, where he was hitting .271 with two home runs and 33 RBIs in 177 at-bats. Matos batted .333 in six at-bats for the Orioles in spring training and is considered the organization's most promising center field prospect above Single-A.

Matos' ability to play center field as well as his presence on the 40-man roster gave him an advantage over veteran nonroster outfielders Wayne Kirby and Karim Garcia.

"Right now, I see him moving into a bench role for the most part. We'll see what he can do," said Hargrove.

Given a quadriceps injury suffered by Anderson while charging Mo Vaughn's single Sunday, Matos may receive more exposure than he expected. Anderson took batting practice before last night's game but did not participate in stretching or shag in the outfield. Hargrove indicated Anderson would be re-evaluated today.

Moving on Mussina

The Orioles intend to reopen communications with pitcher Mike Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, within the next week to better determine the differences separating the two sides regarding a contract extension for the pending free-agent pitcher, according to club sources. Neither the Orioles nor Mussina has budged since late February when the club improved its offer to $60 million for five years. The offer, advanced by majority owner Peter Angelos, includes $10 million deferred at no interest.

Tellem never made a counteroffer to Angelos' modified bid. Mussina's tact has been to wait until the gulf narrows with the club. Mussina, 31, is believed to be seeking a minimum six-year package worth an average $15 million with no money deferred.

Angelos has so far refused to discuss a six-year deal and has given every impression that deferred money will remain central to any extension.

The calendar now prods the Orioles. As they engage the Cleveland Indians in trade talks for pitcher Scott Erickson, the Orioles must also ascertain the chances of retaining Mussina. To do so would involve making a modified proposal and receiving feedback from the pitcher.

Though Mussina's record stands at 5-6, he has won his last four decisions and lowered his ERA to 3.67, lowest on the staff, narrowly out of the league's top 10, and only 0.17 higher than last year's 3.50 figure, which matches his career ERA. Mussina also leads the league with 108 innings pitched.

The club must move quickly if it hopes to deal Erickson without his approval. On July 7, Erickson achieves 10-and-5 status, meaning he has played 10 consecutive years in the same league and five with the same team. He then enjoys veto power over any deal.

However, sources familiar with talks say trading Erickson could complicate signing Mussina if the ace interprets the move as making the team less competitive.

Trombley turns up ill

Reliever Mike Trombley was unavailable for last night's game after experiencing flu-like symptoms that required a doctor's attention yesterday. Hargrove contemplated sending him back to the team hotel.

Trombley last appeared on Saturday, allowing a first-pitch home run to Vaughn. He has allowed three runs in his last 12 outings covering 12 1/3 innings.

Around the horn

Right fielder Albert Belle was denied AL Player of the Week honors despite tying the club record for most RBIs (17) in a week while crashing six home runs, including two grand slams, in four days. From last Monday through Sunday - the window used by the league for making the award - Belle hit for a .348 batting average and 1.130 slugging percentage. His production numbers led the league but were not enough to overcome Detroit Tigers outfielder Bobby Higginson, who earned the award instead. Higginson hit .545 with five home runs, 12 RBIs and a league-high 1.273 slugging percentage. ... Will Clark entered last night hitting .213 (16-for-75) in 24 games since returning from the disabled list. ... Left fielder B. J. Surhoff began the night riding a 12-game hitting streak in which he was 17-for-47 to raise his overall average from .237 to .260.

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