- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2002

The Baltimore Orioles' already thin outfield took another hit this week when it was learned that Melvin Mora had broken a finger and will miss most of spring training.
Mora, the Orioles' likely starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left ring finger Saturday while playing for the Magallanes Navigators of the Venezuelan winter league. He was examined yesterday in Baltimore, where doctors placed a cast on the injured finger, club spokesman Bill Stetka said.
Mora, who turns 30 on Feb. 2, will have the cast removed in four weeks, around the time position players report to the Orioles' camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He should be ready to play by the last week of March.
The Orioles were already short of outfielders before Mora's injury. Chris Richard is out until July after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, Jay Gibbons is returning from a broken wrist and Brady Anderson was released in November.
Free agent signee Marty Cordova is expected to split time between left and right fields, with Gibbons and Jeff Conine playing both corner outfield positions and first base.
Manager Mike Hargrove hinted earlier this month that prospect Luis Matos, the Orioles' best defensive outfielder, likely would start the season at Class AAA Rochester while honing his hitting skills. Mora's injury, however, could give Matos and fellow minor leaguers Larry Bigbie and Willie Harris an opportunity to compete for a spot.

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