- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Marty Cordova has a lucrative three-year contract, a starting job with the Baltimore Orioles and the respect of his new teammates.
That's all he wants from baseball. Publicity, and the perks that come with it, are as repulsive to him as an 0-for-4 game.
"I don't want the media to know me, and I don't care if the fans know me except the ones at the game who appreciate the fact that I never loaf and always play hard," Cordova said. "I don't need to be in a commercial; that stuff is not important to me."
In Cordova's world, the rewards associated with a no-nonsense approach and a .278 career batting average have nothing to do with getting your face on the cover of a magazine or making a few extra bucks endorsing sneakers.
"I want to be respected by my teammates and my peers. That's all that matters," he said. "As far as being a celebrity, I don't care about that."
Maybe it's because Cordova has learned that fame and adulation are difficult to attain and even harder to retain. He was voted American League Rookie of the Year with the Minnesota Twins in 1995 and drove in 111 runs the following season, but injury problems sent his career into a tailspin. After spending much of the year on the disabled list with plantar fascitis in his left foot, Cordova hit .246 in 1997 and then .235 in 1998.
"It affected the way I ran and the way I played the game. I didn't even like to play in the field much because I was hurting so bad," he recalled.
Two years later, Cordova attempted to earn a job as a utility player with the Boston Red Sox, who released him at the end of spring training. Although he latched on with Toronto, he served mostly as a pinch hitter and played in only 62 games.
It got worse. Last year at this time, Cordova was seeking to become a part of the Cleveland Indians' roster after joining the club as a nonroster invitee.
"I went from an everyday player to a part-timer trying to make the team," he said. "So I have a lot of respect for the game, a lot of respect for how hard it is to be consistent. I've certainly had some ups and downs."
His career took a positive turn with the Indians when he hit .301 with 20 homers in 122 games. Cordova then became a free agent and in December jumped at the Orioles' three-year offer of $9.1 million.
"Cleveland wanted me, but I had to do what was best for me. I couldn't wait around until Cleveland was in a position to sign me," he said. "I felt like this was the best fit for me, a place where I could get back to playing every day."
The Orioles were delighted, too. Only Tampa Bay hit fewer homers than Baltimore's 136 last season.
"He gives a run-producing bat we can use in the fifth, sixth or seven hole," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He's a professional. You want to know what is you can expect from a player, and with Marty we know we're getting a hard-nosed player who busts his butt. Most of all, he's a winner."
Cordova started 105 games with the Indians and got three hits and an RBI in the playoffs against Seattle despite playing with a sprained left wrist.
"Last year was a good experience for me. I got back to hitting the way I like to hit, the way I can hit," he said. "Now I feel like I have three good years to do it."
His seven years of major league experience make him a veteran on a team filled with youngsters and earned him a prime spot in the Orioles' clubhouse next to veterans Jeff Conine, Mike Bordick and David Segui.
"He fits in with what we're trying to do here, and he had a great season last year," Segui said. "The addition of another powerful bat can only be a help."
If they were hoping for a clubhouse jokester, the Orioles will be disappointed. Cordova has a dry wit best described as subtle.
"He's more businesslike, focused on the task at hand, than most players I know," Segui said. "We goof around here a little bit, but he's here to get his work done."
Meanwhile, in Port Charlotte, Fla., Conine had two RBI, and Sidney Ponson allowed one run in four innings to lead the Orioles to a 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers yesterday.
Ponson (2-1) allowed five hits, struck out two and walked one in his third outing of the spring. The Orioles had six doubles among their 13 hits. Jerry Hairston went 2-for-4 and scored twice, and Bordick also had two hits for Baltimore.
Rafael Palmeiro and Herbert Perry knocked in the runs for the Rangers, and Frank Catalanotto went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Texas starter Dave Burba (0-2) allowed six hits and three runs, two earned, in four innings.
Hargrove was ejected by plate umpire Dan Iassogna while disputing a checked swing by Mike Young in the bottom of the third.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide