Hobbled Mora sits to free up a spot

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

3rd baseman goes on DL with strained hamstring

Borkowski shines in debut

Notebook

July 06, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

One move solved two problems for the Orioles yesterday.

Needing to make room for Game 2 starter Dave Borkowski, and unable to wait for an injured player to get healthy on the active roster, the Orioles placed Melvin Mora on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

The move is retroactive to Saturday, after Mora left the previous game in the ninth inning. He's eligible to return July 18, when the club is in St. Petersburg, Fla., to play Tampa Bay. Three days are covered by the All-Star break.

"It seems like they've been dropping like flies," said manager Lee Mazzilli, who also is without the services of B.J. Surhoff and Jay Gibbons. "We can't risk putting him out there and having him blow it out."

The Orioles purchased Borkowski's contract from Triple-A Ottawa after Game 1 of yesterday's doubleheader. They will need to replace Mora with a position player to fortify a weak bench, though they might wait until after tomorrow because they need a starter to take Matt Riley's place.

Borkowski's spot is safe after he took a shutout into the ninth inning last night in an 8-2 win. "I think that kid deserves another shot," Mazzilli said.

Borkowski, 27, appreciated the chance to pitch in the majors again. He hadn't done it since 2001 with the Detroit Tigers, when he appeared in 15 games before going on the disabled list in July. Three months later, he was undergoing arthroscopic surgery.

"That was mainly a cleanup," he said. "There weren't any rips or tears. There was just some junk in the way."

Borkowski faced another challenge beyond fixing the shoulder. One month after that procedure, he underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow.

The second injury occurred while he was playing catch before the shoulder surgery.

"When I went in for my shoulder, I knew I was going to have my elbow done," said Borkowski, who was 2-9 with a 6.93 ERA in parts of three seasons with Detroit.

"I did a lot of talking with the doctors. I had the shoulder done first so I could get range of motion on that before I went in for my elbow. Even when I had my elbow done, I could still rehab my shoulder. Shoulders take a little bit longer."

It took a while for Borkowski to face major league hitters again. He began 2003 at Double-A Erie before the Tigers released him. The Orioles, already familiar with his competitive nature, claimed him the next day and assigned him to Bowie, where he went 6-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 24 games.

"At the time, they told me they were going to make me a starter, so I didn't care where they sent me," he said. "If they had sent me to Frederick, I would have been happy."

Borkowski was 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 85 1/3 innings at Ottawa when the Orioles decided to promote him.

"I've been through quite a bit," he said. "This is kind of like being called up for the first time all over again."

Raines dives right in

Gambling that he could catch a sinking line drive in the second inning of Game 1, Tim Raines Jr. dived for the ball, turned his head and watched it roll to the right-field fence for a triple.

What looked like a bad idea on the surface did nothing to discourage him. Raines ended the same inning with a diving grab to leave the bases loaded, and he made another lunging catch in the third.

"I figured there was no way I was going to let that run score," he said. "I felt like I should have caught the first one. I wasn't going to let that ball touch the ground."

Rather than question Raines' judgment on the first play, Mazzilli encouraged him to stay aggressive.

"He said, `That's why you're out there. You don't play passive,' " Raines said.

Raines provided a key insurance run in the seventh with a two-out double that scored Luis Matos before going 3-for-4 in the nightcap.

"You have to take advantage of the opportunities you get," he said.

Around the horn

The Orioles made room for Borkowski on the 40-man roster by transferring David Segui to the 60-day disabled list. Segui had been on the 15-day DL since April 30, so he can be activated any time. ... Rafael Palmeiro's two-run single in the first inning of Game 2 was his 2,849th career hit, moving him past Brooks Robinson for 38th place on the all-time list. Palmeiro also moved into 16th place on the RBI list with 1,735. ... Miguel Tejada's 19-game hitting streak ended in Game 1. He began another one in Game 2, going 3-for-3.

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