Upcoming series in New York has special meaning for players

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's visit Yankee Stadium year after terrorist attacks

September 09, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Of all the visits the Orioles have made to Yankee Stadium, this one will be different. This one won't be forgotten.

The three-game series that begins tomorrow will put the Orioles in New York one year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It has given the players and coaches a chance to reflect on the tragedy and the emotions that will stir within them.

"It means a lot for us to be there and honor all the people who were killed and the families that are left," said reliever Buddy Groom.

Groom was asleep at the team hotel in Toronto when his wife called from their Texas home to inform him of the attacks at the World Trade Center.

"It becomes anger at that point," he said. "Who could do this to our country and get away with it?"

Shortstop Mike Bordick still is affected by what he called "one of the biggest tragedies in the history of the United States."

"After what happened, it doesn't matter where you're going to be. That day is definitely going to be recognized. It's going to be remembered all across the country," he said. "But since it took place in New York, I think, as a whole, at the stadium there's probably going to be more of an emotional contact."

Bordick, whose season had ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury, was on his front lawn playing catch with one of his young sons when his wife, who had just returned from the gym, called him into the house and broke the news.

"I watched TV for a half-hour, 45 minutes, and said, `I've got to get the kids,' and I took them out of school," he said.

"It scared the hell out of me," said manager Mike Hargrove. "It scared me for my family, for our country, for the people who were immediately involved. I probably had the same reaction as everybody else. There was uncertainty, then a tremendous feeling of pride whenever it all started settling out."

Casanova works out

Catcher Raul Casanova worked out for the Orioles again yesterday as they try to determine whether he's healthy enough to join the organization and provide much-needed depth at the position.

Casanova, 30, blocked pitches in the dirt, made throws to second base and took some swings as Hargrove and Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations, watched from the dugout. Thrift indicated a decision would come in a few days.

Released by the Milwaukee Brewers last week, Casanova must show he has recovered from the torn ligament in his left elbow that put him on the disabled list and kept him from playing after May 19. He has had a myriad of injuries during his professional career, including a strained elbow and torn knee cartilage last season.

The Orioles would have to clear room on their 40-man roster for Casanova, who batted .184 with one homer and eight RBIs in 31 games with the Brewers.

Matthews' return unclear

The Orioles still aren't certain when Gary Matthews will come off the DL and provide their lineup a much-needed boost.

Matthews, who hasn't played since being diagnosed with tendinitis in his right wrist, was eligible to return yesterday. He hinted last week at rejoining the roster tomorrow, but Hargrove said it might be longer.

"It'll be somewhere around there," Hargrove said. "I don't know if it'll be Tuesday or shortly thereafter. It really depends on how he progresses with his hitting."

Hearings on brawl

The Orioles' trip to New York also could bring closure to the July 28 brawl in Boston.

Willis Roberts was suspended for seven games after refusing to relinquish a baseball from his right hand, gesturing toward some Boston players and making contact with umpire Laz Diaz. Melvin Mora was suspended for four games after punching Jason Varitek. Both players appealed their punishments, and the hearings could take place this week because the Major League Baseball office is located in New York.

The Orioles caught a break because MLB officials were too busy with the labor negotiations to hear the appeals last month, and this series comes after rosters expanded.

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