DL visit stops Tejada

Shortstop's wrist fractured

streak ends at 1,152 games

June 23, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

PHOENIX -- It hit Miguel Tejada as he lay in bed Thursday night, his fractured left wrist throbbing, his mind struggling to grasp a reality he had never confronted in his major league career.

"Right now, I can't help this team," Tejada thought to himself.

With that in mind, Tejada submitted to a trip to the 15-day disabled list because of a fracture in the radius bone that occurred when he was hit by a pitch by the San Diego Padres' Doug Brocail on Wednesday night.

Tejada watched last night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks from the dugout, his streak of 1,152 consecutive games played, formerly the longest active streak in the majors and the fifth longest all time, now a memory.

"Right now, I am hurt," Tejada said at a news conference before the game. "My wrist is broken. I think it is better for me and the team to have somebody in there that can help the team. That's when I decided that they can't wait three more days to put me on the DL. I had to go today.

"I don't want to say I am disappointed. ... I'm really proud of myself. I'm really proud to be playing so many games in a row. I don't want to end it like this, but what can I say? There is nothing I can do. I am going to chill out a little bit. I am going to work on my hand and be ready and I am going to try to start another one of them."

Tejada's streak trailed only Orioles great Cal Ripken (2,632), Lou Gehrig (2,130), Everett Scott (1,307) and Steve Garvey (1,207). It leaves Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Juan Pierre, who has played in 345 consecutive games, with the longest active streak in the majors.

Tejada, who is wearing a soft cast, will see a team doctor when the Orioles return from their road trip Monday. Since it's a non-displaced fracture, the All-Star shortstop believes he will be ready to return to the lineup when the 15 days elapse, though it's likely hewill be sidelined longer than that.

Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said the club won't be able to determine the length of Tejada's absence until the swelling goes down, but he doesn't think it is going to be a long-term injury.

"The doctors say that we should see some healing in seven to 10 days," said Duquette, who said the club is content to go with Chris Gomez and Freddie Bynum at shortstop until Tejada returns. Gomez started last night.

"They said [the timing of his return] will depend a lot on his pain tolerance and we already know that this guy has a tremendous pain threshold," Duquette said. "This guy tried to play with a fracture in his wrist. That's pretty remarkable. There are only a handful of guys in this league that would have attempted that."

The other significance of the injury, which occurred about a month before the trade deadline, is that it will make it difficult to move Tejada, who likely would have been the Orioles' biggest trade chip. New president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is evaluating what direction he wants to go in, but any roster shake-up likely would have included a trade of Tejada.

Tejada, 31, extended the streak in controversial fashion Thursday when he batted second in the lineup - he was originally scheduled to hit fourth - and then was removed from the game after his first at-bat. He said he felt he would be able to swing, but didn't feel comfortable when he got to the plate. So he bunted David Wells' pitch, forcing out Brian Roberts at second base before leaving for pinch runner Gomez.

Several Orioles and Padres said after the game that they didn't have a problem with the move as long as it was not an ongoing thing. Interim manager Dave Trembley said he struggled with the situation.

"Today was a real difficult day for me because I know that this man is sensitive and I know that this man ... has earned respect from his teammates and from his fans and from people that follow the Orioles," Trembley said. "It's been a tough day. It's been a real tough day. ... We want to show Miguel Tejada that we care about him, not only as a baseball player, but as a person. And in the best interest of him and his career, he needs to get well."

Before last night, Tejada last missed a game on May 31, 2000, while playing for the Oakland Athletics. He had started all 588 games since signing with the Orioles as a free agent before the 2004 season.

Tejada is hitting .306 this season with seven home runs and 41 RBIs. Asked if he remembered his last day off, Tejada said, "I remember the last time I was DH. That's my day off."

Tejada, whose roster spot was filled when the Orioles recalled outfielder Jon Knott from Triple-A Norfolk, looked lost in the clubhouse hours before last night's game.

"It's hard for me being like this, but it's something that I have to deal with," he said.

He sat on a clubhouse couch, his wrist wrapped in a bandage and his feet up on a table as he watched a baseball game with a sullen look on his face. Several Orioles tried to joke with him, but Tejada's smile was only temporary.

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