Matos will miss rest of season

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Center fielder to have surgery on his right shin

Mora, Villone still upset

Notebook

August 05, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles center fielder Luis Matos will undergo season-ending surgery on his right shin to repair a stress fracture that has kept him out of the lineup for two weeks.

A CT scan taken on Matos' leg yesterday revealed that the width of the fracture, which first became evident in spring training, has increased since he ran into the Green Monster while making a catch during a July 21 game in Boston. He hasn't played since the collision.

No date has been set for the surgery, but it most likely will be in Baltimore.

"I've been having this the whole season, but after that happened in Boston, it was getting more painful," said Matos, who was batting .224 in 89 games. "It's better to get the surgery done now than doing it after the season."

Matos' average never fell below .300 last season, but he has struggled at the plate. One teammate said, "He's been hurt all year."

"I don't like to make excuses because I'm not hitting," Matos said, "but I know when I'm healthy what I'm capable of doing."

Doctors are expected to insert a rod into the tibia rather than perform a bone graft, which will speed the healing process and strengthen the leg.

"You could take a conservative approach and try to get him through the year, but he probably was going to have the surgery when the season was over," said Jim Beattie, executive vice president of baseball operations. "If you wait until the end of the season, then you might start to get into spring training."

Early projections have Matos needing three months' recovery time, which would allow him to play winter ball after being limited to 330 at-bats this season.

"If I can do that, I'm going to be more than happy to do it," he said. "It all depends on how the surgery goes and how good I feel."

Matos hasn't made it through spring training healthy in three of the last four years. He underwent surgery in 2001 for a dislocated left shoulder, and in 2002 to remove a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

"I always say my goal is to be healthy all year, but these things happen," he said. "You don't know why it happens, but it happens. Maybe next year I can figure out why it happened this year."

Jerry Hairston probably will receive the majority of starts in center field, though the team has informed him that he'll be playing more second base the next two months.

Hairston was going to start at second base last night while manager Lee Mazzilli rested Brian Roberts, but Larry Bigbie became a late scratch because of a sore right elbow. Hairston shifted to center field, and Roberts started at second.

Bigbie was hit on the elbow while batting in the seventh inning of Game 2 of Tuesday's doubleheader, and he couldn't throw without pain yesterday.

"His arm blew up on him pretty good," Mazzilli said.

Ongoing feud

The feud between third baseman Melvin Mora and Seattle pitcher Ron Villone heated up again yesterday as the Orioles took batting practice.

Mora and Villone exchanged words after the Mariners began to stretch in front of their dugout, and they had to be separated while players and coaches from both teams merged. No punches were thrown, and the incident died down quickly.

Seattle manager Bob Melvin interrupted his session with the media to make sure it didn't escalate, and Mazzilli left his perch behind the batting cage.

Villone began shouting at Mora from the dugout during Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, apparently in response to Mora's slow trip to first base after walking in the fourth inning. Villone didn't face another batter and later complained about being disrespected.

Just as he did Tuesday, Miguel Tejada played peacemaker yesterday by pulling Mora away from the crowd and talking to him near third base. David Segui later had a prolonged conversation with Villone before the left-hander headed to the outfield.

"He's just upset, that's all," Segui said without elaborating.

Around the horn

Sidney Ponson is scheduled to start Sunday against the Texas Rangers, with Dave Borkowski going on Monday. They were the starters for Tuesday's doubleheader. ... Rafael Palmeiro will appear at the ESPN Zone tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. He'll answer questions and sign autographs.

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