Matos' feet-first slide dislocates shoulder

MRI today to determine status of O's outfielder

March 07, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Orioles outfielder Luis Matos will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging on his left shoulder after dislocating it during yesterday's 7-6 victory over the Montreal Expos. His status remains uncertain until today's examination is completed.

Matos suffered the injury while sliding into third base during a rundown in the third inning. He had reached base after being hit on the foot by Expos starter Britt Reames. Matos stole second on the next pitch, then was caught straying too far off the base by catcher Michael Barrett.

He raced to third as Barrett made a high throw behind him, and the impact of his hard, feet-first slide apparently caused the shoulder to pop out of the socket. Matos, who was safe on the play, grabbed his arm and rolled over as third base coach Tom Trebelhorn motioned toward the dugout for medical assistance.

Trainer Richie Bancells pushed the shoulder back into place and held Matos' arm against the outfielder's body to keep it still as they walked into the clubhouse. X-rays were negative, and Matos wore a sling as he left the ballpark.

"I put my hand down in the dirt to stop myself, and my shoulder came out," said Matos, 22, who was replaced in right field by Wady Almonte. "They don't know how long I'll be out. Today, I don't know anything. But it's very sore."

Though the injury occurred to his non-throwing shoulder, it could affect Matos' ability to reach for fly balls and delay his return. It also hurts his chances of making the club as a spare outfielder, though he's already expected to begin the season at Triple-A Rochester.

Melvin Mora, who played shortstop after being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets last July, is projected as the regular center fielder. The Orioles want Matos to mature as a hitter in the minors before giving him the center-field job.

"It was a late slide, and it reminded me of some of the turf injuries you see in football, where you hit the ground hard and it kind of bounces you," Trebelhorn said. "I didn't really see his arm down, but it appeared that the ground gave it a good whack and knocked it out. I could tell something was bothering him, and the way he was on the ground, I could tell his shoulder had popped out. But it was kind of a funny way for it to happen."

The dislocation was a surprise, because Matos didn't dive into the bag or run into another player.

"You don't see that very often. I don't know how he did it," said manager Mike Hargrove.

The Orioles already are short an outfielder because of Albert Belle's degenerative hip condition, which has prevented him from playing in the club's five exhibition games. They had an extra one yesterday when Tim Raines Jr. remained in camp to play against his father, but he was scheduled to report to the minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla.

This is the second injury to Matos' left shoulder in the last seven months. He suffered a deep bruise during a collision on the basepaths in an Aug. 29 game against Detroit and missed nine of the next 11 games. He batted 11-for-50 (.220) in 19 games after the injury.

"Maybe after that it became a little bit loose, and it came out easier when I slid. Last year, it didn't pop out. It's different this year," he said.

"Things happen for a reason. I'll just try to relax and see what happens. I know I have a chance to make the team, but this happened for a reason."

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