SARASOTA, Fla. — Baltimore outfielder Michael Bourn hasn’t played football since his sophomore year in high school. But it’s a pigskin injury that’s preventing him from playing this spring for the Orioles.
On Friday, the speedy 34-year-old broke his right ring finger catching a football at a workout. Bourn, who signed a minor league contract on Feb. 20, will be out for four weeks, making it difficult for him to be ready for Baltimore’s April 3 opener. He’ll make $2 million if he’s put on the 40-man roster.
Bourn has difficult competition. Another veteran major league outfielder, Craig Gentry, signed two days before, plus the Orioles want to take long looks at Rule 5 outfielders Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez. Joey Rickard, a Rule 5 pick who played with the team last season, is also a serious contender.
Because he signed late, Bourn hadn’t played.
“I was ready to go and pretty much ready to get into games the next couple days and now I’ve got to wait a about four weeks to heal. I want it to heal correctly but I want to push it, too. There’s really nothing I can do about it,” he said.
Bourn was acquired by Baltimore last Aug. 31 from Arizona. He hit .283 in 24 games, and when Orioles center fielder Adam Jones made a plea for the team to add better defensive outfielders, Bourn was an obvious fit. He says he’ll be ready if the team wants him.
“I’ll be in shape. That’s not a question about that part. That part is no question, but just about getting into baseball shape. Seeing pitching in spring training is a big thing. That’s how you get ready for the season, so with that being side, you want to see some pitching before you go into the season in a real big league game when it counts.” Bourn said.
Bourn doesn’t want fans to think he got hurt clowning around.
“It wasn’t football for fun, first off. I was doing it for conditioning. It was just a conditioning drill that you do and the ball just hit me in the wrong spot,” Bourn said.
As a high schooler in Houston, Bourn was a good football player.
“I did everything. I was like Reggie Bush. I was a receiver, I played a little bit of running back, a little bit of cornerback, a little bit of safety,” Bourn said.
He didn’t play long enough to be another Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders in college at the University of Houston, though he did say that there was interest in having him play basketball for the school.
“I stopped too soon. But I think I would have been able to get some if I had kept going. But I think I chose the right route,” Bourn said.
Notes: LHP Zach Britton says his oblique soreness is gone, but manager Buck Showalter said he hasn’t decided when he’ll pitch in a Grapefruit League game. . INF Paul Janish, who signed a minor league contract on Saturday, reported to the team on Sunday and is expected to practice Monday.