Hairline kneecap fracture felt like `bruise' to stunned Bordick

`Disappointed, shocked,' shortstop was in groove with both the bat, glove

July 17, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick rose from the ground during Monday's game concerned about his head. He found out later that a more serious problem existed in his right leg, which will force him onto the disabled list for the second time in two seasons.

A magnetic resonance imaging test and further examination yesterday revealed a hairline fracture in his kneecap. Bordick's leg will be immobilized for three weeks before the club re-evaluates the injury.

Bordick slid into Seattle Mariners shortstop Carlos Guillen after being picked off first base in the sixth inning of Monday's 6-5 victory. His head slammed into Guillen's leg, causing him to lie on his back for several seconds and bringing trainer Richie Bancells from the dugout. Bordick's knee also collided with Guillen's shin, which wasn't apparent to him until attempting to stand.

"I didn't even realize I hurt my knee," said Bordick, who won't need crutches. "It felt a little uncomfortable, but it felt more like a bruise. I got a little more concerned as the inning went on and I couldn't really push off [the leg]. I'm very disappointed and shocked. I can't believe it. Hopefully, my bones heal quick."

The injury removes the Orioles' most reliable defensive player from their lineup. He leads all shortstops with a .998 fielding percentage, with one error in 416 total chances. He has gone 73 straight games without a miscue, the longest stretch of his career, and has 389 consecutive errorless chances, the third-highest total in American League history behind Cal Ripken (428) and Omar Vizquel (425).

He also began to find his stroke at the plate. Bordick went 3-for-3 with his fourth home run Monday, raising his average to .242.

"It's a shame for the ballclub because he's so important to us, and it's a shame for him, too, because for the last month his game has really started to come around," manager Mike Hargrove said. "Bordy's a good guy, and he'll be OK and come through this well."

The Orioles also lost Bordick to an injury last year that devastated the club. Bordick separated his right shoulder on June 13, reinjured it while on a rehab assignment at Single-A Delmarva and underwent surgery in August that ended his season after 58 games. The Orioles were 27-31 with a .982 fielding percentage when Bordick played, and 36-67 with a .978 fielding percentage without him.

Bordick left Monday's game after seven innings, and X-rays were negative. The Orioles scheduled the MRI as a precaution, and the initial results didn't show any damage. Hargrove said a closer examination revealed the fracture, and he was informed by Bancells in the eighth inning yesterday.

"Bordy solidifies our infield. He's the captain of the whole defense," second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "You really hate to see a guy like that go down. This really hurts. You have [David] Segui, [Jeff] Conine and now Bordick. Those are our three veteran guys. But we've got to move on."

Melvin Mora started at shortstop yesterday, only the 13th time in 91 games that Bordick wasn't in the lineup. Mora started 53 games at shortstop last year and 43 in 2000 after coming to the Orioles in a trade for Bordick. He committed a throwing error yesterday on a bouncer from Ichiro Suzuki.

Hargrove indicated after the game that Mora would make the majority of starts in Bordick's absence, with Luis Lopez also filling in after having his contract purchased on Friday.

"I feel fine there," Mora said, "but we're losing a big piece from this team. Everything comes to him as the shortstop, and how he controls the game has been incredible."

The Orioles will announce a roster move today. Hargrove said Brian Roberts was an option after returning to Triple-A Rochester last week, but club officials may be hesitant to remove Roberts from his full-time role in the minors.

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