O's, Fort Lauderdale agree to retain their partnership


Spring training alliance to be extended 2 years

Matos to have tests on shin


March 07, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Orioles and the city of Fort Lauderdale have reached an oral agreement to maintain their spring training partnership for two more years.

The deal won't be official until the city commission and the Orioles sign the agreement during an April 20 meeting. The club has been represented in talks by executive vice president John Angelos and lawyer Alan Koslow.

"In concept, we've come to an agreement and we're in the process of putting in the document," said Vince Gizzi, the city's superintendent for special facilities. "It still has to be signed off."

The Orioles have trained in Fort Lauderdale since 1996, but their lease expires April 30. The city is having financial problems, and officials offered to include the stadium among their budget cuts as a means of relief.

Though the stadium generates annual revenue of about $500,000, it requires between $800,000 and $850,000 to operate. Under the current proposal, the Orioles would cover the deficit over the next two years.

If an agreement is signed, the city could tear down Lockhart Stadium, which sits next to Fort Lauderdale Stadium, and build a multi-purpose facility with adjoining fields on the 52-acre site that would allow the Orioles to move their minor league complex from Sarasota, Fla. Another option is refurbishing the current stadium, which was built in 1961.

The city also is pursuing a 15-year lease with the Orioles.

Matos to have bone scan

Orioles center fielder Luis Matos will undergo bone and CT scans tomorrow to determine whether the pain in his right shin is from a stress fracture.

Team officials are referring to the injury as a "stress reaction," or shinsplints, after a magnetic resonance imaging test proved inconclusive. The initial prognosis called for Matos, who missed his second straight game yesterday, to be sidelined seven to 10 days. A fracture could cost him a month.

"We expect it to just quiet down on its own," said Mike Flanagan, vice president of baseball operations. "We don't look at this as a negative. We'll pay attention to it and get it to go away."

Head trainer Richie Bancells said Matos began receiving treatments last week, and the Orioles scheduled the MRI after Thursday's exhibition opener.

"Guys have that kind of soreness in spring training a lot just from putting spikes on for the first time and running on surfaces they're not used to. This just got to be a little bit more persistent, and we felt it was necessary to take a look," Bancells said.

"There was a little bit of a signal on the MRI that they termed as a stress reaction, and that means we don't know exactly what's going on, but there's some kind of inflammatory response there. We don't have the complete story yet so you really don't rule anything out until you have the information."

Matos, who is receiving ice treatments, has a history of injuries in exhibition games. He needed surgery in 2001 to tighten his left shoulder socket after suffering another dislocation, and in 2002 to remove a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. A stress fracture would require rest.

"He said he felt a lot better today just by giving it a day's rest," manager Lee Mazzilli said.

"It's early," Matos said, "so it's better that it happened now."

Bigbie in center again

With Matos unavailable yesterday, the Orioles started Larry Bigbie in center field and continued to bat him No. 2 in the lineup.

Playing left field during Friday's game in Jupiter, Bigbie was hit in the head after losing a fly ball in the sun. Upon entering the clubhouse yesterday, he found a batting helmet hanging in his locker with a pair of sunglasses attached to it.

"It happens to everyone. It happened to me," Mazzilli said. "Obviously, you have to make light of things like that. You're embarrassed and you can't dig a hole big enough to crawl into."

Juden assigned to Ottawa

Jeff Juden, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 1999 or professionally since 2001, signed a minor league contract with the Orioles. He'll be assigned to Triple-A Ottawa.

Juden, 33, made two appearances with the New York Yankees before disappearing from the majors. In 2001, he pitched for Triple-A Charlotte and independent Sioux City.

The 12th overall selection in the 1989 draft, Juden also has pitched for Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Montreal, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Anaheim. He faced the Orioles in Game 3 of the 1997 American League Championship Series.

The Orioles signed Juden after he threw for Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations, in Sarasota.

"Doc really liked him and we had a spot, so why not?" Flanagan said.

Juden, who is 27-32 with a 4.81 ERA in eight major league seasons, will report to the minor league complex in Sarasota.

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