Mike Bordick can't say whether it's mere coincidence or if the occasional rest provided by Orioles manager Mike Hargrove has a positive effect. Either way, the numbers suggest that Bordick is better off when he's had a day off.
Unfortunately, now that theory may get a longer test.
Bordick was injured while attempting to turn a double play in the ninth inning of last night's game against the New York Mets. Lenny Harris made a hard, clean slide into Bordick, flipping him into the air as he threw late to first base.
The Orioles shortstop landed on the back of his neck and right shoulder and stayed down for several minutes while being checked by trainer Richie Bancells. X-rays were taken as a precaution. Team officials feared a possible dislocated shoulder.
His bat has thrived with extra rest this season.
After not being in the lineup on Sunday, Bordick hit a two-run homer in the first inning of the following game to tie Chris Richard for the club lead with seven. He didn't play on June 3, then homered and drove in three runs. He went 4-for-4 with two homers the ensuing night to continue his offensive rampage.
The examples go beyond those games. After not being in the lineup May 31, Bordick went 3-for-5 with an RBI. After not playing May 13, he went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs.
So what gives?
Providing little clarity, Bordick said before the game, "I don't know if it's coincidence or not." He couldn't even verify whether he feels energized physically or more mentally alert after resting, though it's obvious he prefers being in the lineup on a regular basis.
"Everyday players want to be out there every day," Bordick said. "There's really no reason for being off unless you're hurting. I don't think off days for an everyday player make that much of a difference."
The last two lineups without Bordick have come before an open date on the schedule, giving him an extra day's rest.
"There may be something there," he said, grinning. "I think every player would like to have two days off every now and then. That might do something."
Unable to take the analysis any further, Bordick accidentally scraped his right knee on the chair where his foot had rested.
"Well, I'm going to need another day off," he joked.
He had no idea how ironic that statement would become.
Hairston keeps bat warm
Having spent all of April trying to get his average to .200, Jerry Hairston is watching it soar in June.
Hairston, who was 1-for-5 last night, is batting .415 this month, going 17-for-41 in 11 games. He is 9-for-19 in his past five games, including singles in his first two at-bats during Tuesday's loss. His average this month ranked second to Seattle's Bret Boone (.474), and his six stolen bases were first.
"I think it's a combination of things," said Hairston, who's gone from hitting .254 to .284 in June. "I'm seeing the ball a lot better. I'm waiting for a good pitch, and when I do get it, I'm not missing it.
"Hitting is one of those strange things. I'm hitting the ball pretty good, but I'm also finding holes. And for some odd reason, I've always been a real slow starter. Maybe it's because I like hitting in warm weather."
He's also put in extra hours with hitting coach Terry Crowley and received advice from bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks. They offer the experience of a combined 28 years in the majors. "Those things help," Hairston said.
Hargrove has noticed the free-swinging Hairston is making pitchers bring the ball down in the strike zone. He's getting into good hitters' counts by being more patient.
Lunar gets another start
Catcher Fernando Lunar made his ninth start last night, passing Greg Myers among Orioles backups. He's been a more regular presence in the lineup after not receiving his first start until May 2.
By going 1-for-4, Lunar has hit safely in his past four games, tying his career high set last year with Atlanta. Included in the streak were two straight two-hit games, though it is defense that continues to get him noticed. He threw out runners attempting to steal in his previous two starts.
"He's as good behind the plate blocking balls as anybody I've ever seen," Hargrove said. "There are a lot of positives and a lot of reasons for him getting more playing time, but not at the exclusion of getting Brook Fordyce back on track offensively."
Fordyce is batting .203. His average hasn't risen above .231, where it stood on April 12.
Mills speeding along
Reliever Alan Mills' injury rehab assignment has moved from Single-A Frederick to Double-A Bowie, where he threw a scoreless inning on Tuesday. It was his third appearance in the minors, and his fastball continued to reach 92 mph.
"Obviously his velocity is coming back and that's a key component," Hargrove said. "Now he's just got to maintain that consistency, get in the strike zone and build up his arm strength."
With the first trip to a National League city coming this weekend, Orioles pitchers have been taking early batting practice before heading to Philadelphia, where they won't have the luxury of a designated hitter.
"We've been concentrating on them handling the bat as far as bunting the ball in certain situations, getting runners over from second base, situational things. And then we let them loose to swing the bat," Hargrove said.
"I don't think there are any of them that I'll be using as a pinch hitter anytime soon."
Around the horn
The May 26 game against the Texas Rangers that was postponed because of rain has been rescheduled for July 18 as part of a day-night doubleheader. The makeup game will begin at 1:05 p.m. and the second game is scheduled for 7:05. ... Melvin Mora's bunt single in the third inning was his eighth of the season.