- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

KANSAS CITY, Mo. When the Baltimore Orioles' season ends Sept. 30, some inevitably will wonder where it all fell apart.
Was it too many inexperienced players? The lack of a bona fide power hitter? A porous defense?
Or how about the injuries?
Piece by piece, the Orioles who entered last night's game against the Kansas City Royals 20 games under .500 have seen key players succumb to injuries.
Baltimore's two latest losses outfielder Jay Gibbons, who underwent season-ending surgery yesterday to remove the broken hamate bone in his right hand, and shortstop Mike Bordick, who is expected to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery next week only underscore what has been a disastrous season health-wise for the Orioles.
Seven players on Baltimore's Opening Day payroll will spend at least the final two months of the season on the disabled list: Gibbons, Bordick, pitchers Pat Hentgen (sprained elbow ligament), Scott Erickson (sprained elbow ligament) and Luis Rivera (torn labrum in shoulder), along with outfielders Albert Belle (degenerative hip) and Luis Matos (dislocated shoulder).
Those seven players are making a combined $28 million this year, though the Orioles are insured for most of Belle's $12,049,000 and Erickson's $6,680,000.
Still, combined with salaries being paid to three players released earlier this year (outfielder Delino DeShields, catcher Greg Myers and left-hander Chuck McElroy), the Orioles are paying more than $35 million to players no longer on their active roster. That equates to more than 47 percent of their $74 million payroll.
Baltimore's current seven-game trip to Toronto and Kansas City has been particularly troubling. Gibbons was forced to walk off the field in the middle of an at-bat Saturday against the Blue Jays after aggravating his wrist injury while fouling off a pitch. The 24-year-old slugger, who leads all American League rookies with 15 home runs, returned to Baltimore to be examined and underwent successful surgery yesterday in Charlottesville.
Hand specialist Frank McCue removed both the broken hamate bone and repaired torn cartilage found in Gibbons' right wrist. Orioles vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift said Gibbons should be healthy enough to play winter ball and be back at full strength by spring training.
"I would assume, and I don't think it's a large assumption, that Jay will be ready to go in spring training," manager Mike Hargrove said.
Meanwhile, Bordick will visit orthopedic specialist James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday and is expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Bordick has been on the disabled list since June 14 with a separated shoulder but seemed on the verge of returning to the Orioles after a week-long rehab stint.
But he further injured himself trying to make a tough play on a ground ball during Sunday's game at Class A Delmarva and had to be taken out. On Tuesday, the Orioles confirmed that Bordick will see Andrews next week and is likely lost for the season.
"Really, until I hear differently, we're under the assumption that he'll be ready to go next year in spring training," Hargrove said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide