The disappointing season of Baltimore Orioles center fielder Luis Matos, which began with an injury in spring training and subsequently fell short of the promise he showed a year ago, has come to an end with the announcement Wednesday that Matos will have surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right shin.
No date or location has been set for the surgery, which most likely will involve a metal rod being inserted into Matos's tibia. He will be out of action for about three months, but may recover in time to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico.
Matos, 25, first developed the stress fracture during spring training but played for the first 31/2 months of the season, getting frequent treatment on the area. However, he hit only .224 with an on-base percentage of .275 -- down from .303 and .353 last season -- and was in danger of losing his job in the season's final eight weeks.
"I've had it all season," Matos said of the injury. "I don't like to make excuses [for the fact] I'm not hitting. But I know when I'm healthy what I'm capable of doing."
The injury was aggravated July 21 after he ran into the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway Park while catching a fly ball off the bat of Johnny Damon. He had not played since, and a CAT scan taken Wednesday morning showed the fracture had widened considerably.
"You could try to get him through the year, but he would probably have the surgery anyway," said Jim Beattie, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations. "If you have it done now, at least it's done and you give him more time to get ready" for spring training.
In Matos's absence, Jerry Hairston is likely to receive the bulk of the playing time in center field. Hairston was the Orioles' starting second baseman from August 2000 until being injured in May 2003, and has expressed frustration at playing behind Brian Roberts since his return.