O's Tejada strains muscle in right leg

Orioles notebook

Shortstop had homered, doubled before leaving in 4th

he's day-to-day

Baseball

March 12, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Orioles have become so susceptible to injuries this spring that their shortstop got hurt yesterday while the third baseman fielded a ground ball.

Shortstop Miguel Tejada left the game against the Boston Red Sox in the fourth inning with a strained muscle in his right lower leg. X-rays taken at City of Palms Park were negative, and he's listed as day-to-day.

On this team, who isn't? Tejada threw a scare into the Orioles when he limped off the field after third baseman Melvin Mora charged a bouncer from the Boston Red Sox's Mark Bellhorn and recorded the out. Tejada pulled up near Mora and bent at the waist in pain.

Head trainer Richie Bancells said Tejada noticed cramping in the muscle, which runs down the shin and attaches to the foot, during batting practice but attempted to play. It became worse in the fourth.

"It looks minor," Bancells said. "More than anything else, it was just cramping. He actually feels much better now."

Tejada, who homered and had a run-scoring double through three innings, wasn't scheduled to make today's trip to Viera. He could be available tomorrow.

"Everything is fine. I was just worried a little bit, but I'll be OK," he said. "I didn't drink too much water today, and I think that's why I got the cramps. It hurt real bad for about five seconds and then it went away."

The Orioles already lost second baseman Jerry Hairston to a fractured finger, and second baseman Brian Roberts missed his third straight game with a strained left groin.

Red Sox pitcher Reynaldo Garcia drilled Mora on the left elbow in the eighth inning. Mora suffered a bruise but said he was fine. Tejada's replacement, Luis Lopez, had cramping in his left calf and also left the game.

"I'm running out of players," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "That's why I got Raffy [Palmeiro] out of there real quick. I was afraid something else would happen."

Meanwhile, center fielder Luis Matos won't be allowed to run until it's determined whether he has a stress fracture in his right shin.

The Orioles assumed Matos' bone scan was mailed to Baltimore a few days ago, but it remained at a Fort Lauderdale hospital yesterday. Instead, they sent it to the minor league complex in Sarasota, where team physician Dr. Charles Silberstein could examine it.

"In the long run, it doesn't change anything that we're doing with Luis," Bancells said. "He hit a little bit [Wednesday] and he threw, and we'll continue those activities unless the bone scan tells us differently."

Rare AL opponent

Mazzilli insisted that yesterday's game, the first for the Orioles against an American League team - let alone one in their division - held no special meaning to him. So, maybe it was just coincidence that the lineup included every starter except Hairston and Matos.

"We know what club they have; they know what kind of club we have," Mazzilli said.

The Red Sox and Minnesota Twins are the only AL teams on the Orioles' schedule.

"I don't know if it's a major disadvantage," Mazzilli said, "but it's not something that you like."

Rakers to rescue

Aaron Rakers rescued Jorge Julio yesterday after the Orioles' closer gave up five runs in the ninth. Rakers ended the game by striking out Adam Hyzdu, who represented the tying run.

Rakers, 27, had an impressive debut, striking out two in a scoreless inning against the Florida Marlins in Jupiter. He had been equally dominant in the Arizona Fall League, going 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA and two saves in 13 games with the Mesa Solar Sox. He walked four and struck out 24.

"It was the third time I was there, so I wasn't star-struck or nervous about pitching in one of the top leagues," he said.

No D. Bautista

The Orioles still are waiting on pitcher Denny Bautista, whose arrival has been delayed while he obtains his work visa in the Dominican Republic.

Pitcher Eddy Rodriguez made it to camp Wednesday. He could begin the season at Ottawa after going 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA and 13 saves at Double-A Bowie.

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