Winterport’s Mike Bordick is back in professional baseball fulltime.
Bordick, who set the major league record among shortstops for consecutive errorless games with 110 in 2002, was hired by the Toronto Blue Jays to be their first roving minor league infield instructor.
Toronto was the last of the four teams he played for during his 1,720-game major league career. He retired in 2003 and hit .260 over his 14 seasons with 1,500 hits and 626 runs batted in.
“It’s great to be back in the game, working with kids,” said the 43-year-old former University of Maine star, who had coached baseball at the Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore, Md., where he still has a home.
Bordick explained that he spends 20 days a month on the road during the season.
He is currently in Lansing, Mich., with the Blue Jays’ Midwest League (Class A) affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts.
The Jays also have teams in Las Vegas (AAA), Manchester, N.H. (AA), Dunedin, Fla. (Class A and Rookie League teams) and Auburn, N.Y. (A).
“I usually spend three or four days in each city working with the infielders,” said Bordick.
In addition to working with them on their fielding, he also tries to help them by sharing some of his experiences.
“Hopefully, I can prepare them for what’s down the road,” said Bordick, who retired in 2003.
He feels the Blue Jays have a good crop of infielders who are “eager to learn. They want to get better.”
Bordick admitted that it is difficult being away from wife Monica and their six children.
“Obviously, that’s always been the toughest thing for me,” said Bordick. “But in order for me to stay in the game and be involved, I had to get back in there before it’s too late. This job has allowed me some flexibility. I’m home 10 days a month. It’s a lot better than being away for seven months.”
He also noted that his children are “pretty excited I’m back in [pro] baseball.”
Bordick said he gets to dictate his schedule unless Blue Jays director of player personnel Dick Scott of Ellsworth sends him to address a need.
“If some infielders are scuffling, he may have me spend seven days helping them out,” explained Bordick.
He said baseball is in the process of undergoing a “huge change” by “getting back to basics.”
“The elements of bunting, moving base-runners and running the bases [properly] are coming back,” said Bordick. “Every team had been counting on the three-run homer, it had become such a power game. But steroids are such a big issue, power numbers are going to diminish. So the game will go back to where it was.”
He said the focus on offense has caused defense to “take a big hit.
“Teams aren’t taking time to work on defense. But it’s a crucial element. The Blue Jays want their [minor leaguers] to be able to catch the ball or they won’t be there [in Toronto]. They’ve got an aggressive mindset toward defense,” said Bordick.
He said he was surprised at Manny Ramirez’s substance abuse that led to his 50-game suspension because of the intense media scrutiny that has confronted previous steroid users like Alex Rodriguez.
“He’ll take such a hit, personally. I don’t know how it will affect him psychologically. He will face constant bombardment from the media,” said Bordick. “There’s also the health risk. These guys are looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but what impact will it have on their health?”