Despite injury, Matos produces

Orioles notebook

Center fielder shakes off stress fracture in his shin, lifts spring average to .400

Baseball

March 19, 2004|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Orioles center fielder Luis Matos said yesterday that he may be feeling the effects of the mild stress fracture in his right shin for a month or two, but he has never looked healthier.

Matos started his third consecutive game and went 2-for-4 to raise his spring batting average to .400 and take a load off the minds of everyone in the Orioles' front office.

"The kid's a quality player, all around," said manager Lee Mazzilli. "He won't play tomorrow, but that's just because it's time for a rest."

It took Matos almost no time to find his stroke after the shin soreness forced him out of the lineup just one game into the exhibition schedule. He has five hits in 12 at-bats since he returned and still looked fresh when he rounded first base after a ninth-inning single in yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

"I played most of the winter," Matos said, "so 10 or 12 days wasn't going to make any difference. I just needed to stay back and get back in rhythm. I went seven days without doing anything, then got three days of [batting practice]. It was like a week off."

The injury was slow to be diagnosed because of a delay in getting the results of a bone scan analyzed. Doctors finally characterized the injury as a "mild stress reaction," which is a nice way of saying Matos had a superficial stress fracture.

"When I first heard that, I was kind of scared," he said, "but they said that I could play with it and it's not going to get any worse. That was good news for me. It was good [the last three days]. I'm happy. I've been taking treatment and that is helping a lot, but I don't think it's going to be back to normal for a couple of months."

Waiting for D. Bautista

Pitcher Denny Bautista has been absent from camp for a month because of visa problems in his native Dominican Republic, but he is expected to arrive at the club's major league training facility today.

Club officials said Bautista was booked on an evening flight to Fort Lauderdale last night. If he arrives as scheduled, he will undergo a physical today and begin working out with the team.

"He won't throw," Mazzilli said. "We don't know whether he can pitch right away. We have to take a look at him."

Bautista will spend at least a few days with the major league club before a decision is made whether to send him to minor league camp.

"We haven't even talked about that yet," Mazzilli said.

Riley to start tomorrow

Left-hander Matt Riley will make his first start of the spring tomorrow against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Riley moves into the rotation slot previously occupied by veteran Omar Dahl, who will go to the club's Sarasota minor league camp to make his start.

Dahl is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts. Riley is 1-0 with a 5.14 ERA in three relief outings.

The change would appear to indicate that the club is leaning toward Riley for the last spot in the rotation, barring a trade for another veteran pitcher.

Mora impresses at third

Two weeks ago, an opposing major league scout listed third base defense as one of the Orioles' primary concerns. Melvin Mora had two errors in the first few exhibition games, and he simply didn't look comfortable there.

But Mora has been terrific ever since, making both the routine and the spectacular plays. He made his third error of the spring Wednesday but came back with seven flawless plays yesterday against the Minnesota Twins.

"He's just been outstanding," Mazzilli said. "He's made some plays that you just absolutely open your eyes and say wow."

Sun staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this article.

Exhibitions

Yesterday's results

Minnesota 5, Orioles 3 Toronto 7, Cincinnati 2 Cleveland 10, Boston 9 Los Angeles 9, Florida 6 Houston 3, St. Louis (ss) 1 Philadelphia 8, Pittsburgh 5 St. Louis (ss) 7, Montreal (ss) 1 Atlanta 7, New York (NL) 3 Chicago (NL) 12, Anaheim 7 Seattle 5, Milwaukee 1 Oakland 9, Kansas City 2 Arizona 9, San Francisco 6 Montreal (ss) 6, Detroit 4

Today's games

In Florida

Los Angeles vs. Orioles at Fort Lauderdale, 1:05 Houston vs. Montreal at Viera, 1:05 New York (NL) vs. Atlanta at Kissimmee, 1:05 Minnesota vs. Toronto at Dunedin, 1:05 St. Louis vs. Florida at Jupiter, 1:05 Pittsburgh vs. Boston at Fort Myers, 1:05 Tampa Bay vs. Cincinnati at Sarasota, 1:05 Philadelphia vs. Detroit (ss) at Lakeland, 1:05 N.Y. (AL) (ss) vs. Cleveland at Winter Haven, 7:05 Detroit (ss) vs. N.Y. (AL) (ss) at Tampa, 7:15

In Arizona

Seattle vs. San Francisco at Scottsdale, 2:05 Anaheim vs. Oakland at Phoenix, 3:05 Arizona vs. Texas at Surprise, 3:05 Kansas City vs. Colorado at Tucson, 3:05 Chicago (NL) vs. Chicago (AL) at Tucson, 3:05 Milwaukee vs. San Diego at Peoria, 9:05

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