Johnson's MRI reveals tendinitis


Pounded pitcher could miss at least one start

Bordick itchy to return


July 25, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Jason Johnson's availability for his next start is in jeopardy after a magnetic resonance imaging test revealed tendinitis in the Orioles pitcher's right shoulder.

Johnson was examined Tuesday, one day after allowing four home runs and losing velocity on his fastball in a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. He also couldn't locate his breaking ball and changeup while suffering his eighth loss in 11 decisions.

Manager Mike Hargrove wasn't certain whether Johnson would take his turn Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, though this week's rainout and today's open date give him more time between starts. Johnson's spot would have come up a day sooner if not for the injury, but he has been moved to the back of the rotation.

Team physician Dr. Charles Silberstein administered an anti-inflammatory shot and is monitoring its effect on Johnson's shoulder while also prescribing rest.

"I'm going to miss one start, and we'll see what happens from there," Johnson said.

"The first question [Silberstein] even asked me before he told me it was tendinitis was, `How's your control been?' I was like, `With what?' And he said, `With your pitches.' I told him I've been missing my spots a lot. Then he asked me about my speed, and I told him it was down against Toronto. He goes, `Well here, let me show you,' and he showed me up on the board.

"There was a big spot from the tendinitis and swelling. He said, `That's what's causing it.' That explains why I can't hit a spot right now if I tried."

Hargrove, who rated his concern a "four" on his scale of one to 10, didn't know if the problem dated further back than the first Toronto game July 17. "It sure could have, but he never said anything," Hargrove said.

Johnson went on the disabled list earlier this season with a broken finger on his pitching hand. Asked whether he's confident he won't miss more than one start, Johnson said, "I hope so. I've never had a problem with my arm before so I don't really know."

Johnson has allowed 12 runs, including seven homers, in his past two appearances - both against the Blue Jays.

On the trade block, too?

Along with Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson, Johnson has come up in trade discussions as teams inquire about his availability with the non-waiver deadline approaching next week. Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations, has said he would need to be "overwhelmed" to deal any of his three starters.

Thrift has been instructed by majority owner Peter Angelos to maintain the payroll at its present level, which leaves him little flexibility to make a trade involving established players from other clubs.

"We're not looking to make money or lose money [in a trade]. We're trying to break even," Thrift said.

"Every team I've talked to, including the Seattle team, is saying they can't take on money. That makes it very interesting. It's not going to be easy. There are other available possibilities if you can match up the contracts, but we're not involved in that."

Bordick nears rehab

Shortstop Mike Bordick said he's "on the eve" of beginning rehabilitation exercises on his injured right knee while remaining hopeful of having the brace removed sooner than originally anticipated.

Doctors informed Bordick that his leg would be immobilized for three weeks after fracturing the kneecap during a July 15 game against Seattle. But Bordick already has tested it and remains optimistic of an earlier return to the lineup.

"It feels like it could be sooner," he said. "It's still sore where it cracked. They're waiting for that soreness to get out. But it feels good."

Bordick can throw and hit while wearing the brace. He removed it and flexed his quadriceps muscle to gauge the amount of discomfort in the injured area.

"That pain is slowly but surely going away, which tells us it's healing pretty good," he said. "I need it to heal up where it's almost pain-free before I can start doing some straight-leg lifts and start strengthening the muscles around there."

With the brace altering the way he walks, Bordick must be careful not to injure his right hip. "It's sore a little bit," he said. "When I throw and hit, it's just a matter of being careful and concentrating on using good mechanics."

Around the horn

The Orioles' postponed game from June 6 in New York has been rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sept. 10. Game times are 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. ... The Blue Jays sent infielder Joey Lawrence to Triple-A Syracuse and recalled Orlando Hudson, who started at second base yesterday and went 0-for-4.

Sun staff writer Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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