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Ordonez sees future with White Sox
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06/27/2004  3:57 PM ET
Ordonez sees future with White Sox
Right fielder anxious to return from knee surgery
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't see Magglio Ordonez returning next week. (Brian Kersey/AP)
CHICAGO -- White Sox trainer Herm Schneider is not an agent, and he doesn't pretend to have any working knowledge of the numbers being discussed where Magglio Ordonez's contract situation is concerned.

But nobody has spent more time with Ordonez during the past month than Schneider, and he claims that the All-Star right fielder still has thoughts about continuing his career with the White Sox after the 2003 season. It's his inability to help the team presently, as it battles the Twins for the Central Division title, which truly leaves Ordonez frustrated.

"The bottom line, and maybe nobody believes it, but he still sees a potential future here," Schneider said of Ordonez prior to Sunday's series finale. "He wants to help this team win, and he can't do it from the training room.

"That bothers him. He wants to go out and play right field and help us win games. He knows we miss him. He's humble about it, but you would be an idiot not to think Magglio makes this team better. He wants to help."

Ordonez's time frame to help has been debated somewhat over the last few weeks, with various less-than-definitive answers being provided by Ordonez himself. But according to Schneider, the 4-to-6 week return date originally presented has not been altered.

With arthroscopic surgery, performed three weeks ago, immediately taking care of the meniscus pain suffered by Ordonez, he had hopes and thoughts of returning quicker than the initial timetable. Some reports even had Ordonez possibly ready to play by the first game of the Cleveland series this past Monday at U.S. Cellular Field.

But according to manager Ozzie Guillen, with some support from Schneider, it's still up in the air as to whether Ordonez will be ready for the second Cubs' series next weekend at Wrigley Field or even prior to the All-Star break.

"In my opinion, I doubt Magglio will be back next week," Guillen said. "Maybe they will say something different. It's up to Magglio, but I have doubts.

"It's a health issue, not about timing. As soon as he's healthy, Magglio is back in the lineup."

Guillen joked that Ordonez is killing his coaches, who arrive early every day to work out with the right fielder. Guillen also mentioned that Ordonez has looked his best since the injury over the last two days, but his swing still isn't there yet.

For Schneider, Ordonez's running isn't up to snuff. There is nothing currently seriously wrong with the knee, but it's a process he has to go through with the portholes and scar tissue from the surgery.

"He has no trouble with the joint itself, but the muscle is giving him a little bit of trouble," Schneider said. "That's why we said four to six weeks.

"Everyone sees him doing a lot and we all want to get him back. If he came back a little earlier, that would be great. But I've been doing this long enough to know that there's a process to go through and there are ups and downs.

"When he feels good and runs and does things he needs to do to be a Major League ballplayer at the level where he plays, then he's ready to go," Schneider added. "I would send him out at 90 or 95 percent, but I won't send him out there at 75 percent. Is that fair?"

In the last year of his contract, with an even bigger payday assuredly on the horizon, Ordonez wants back in the lineup to improve upon his .311 average with eight home runs and 34 RBIS. Of course, trade rumors surrounding Ordonez over the past two days could have him playing in Atlanta, with pitcher Russ Ortiz and center fielder Andruw Jones headed to Chicago, if they are to be remotely believed.

For now, Ordonez's focus is on getting healthy and helping the White Sox win. Whether he is still playing for them in 2004 is open to a great deal of future debate.

"I talk to him every day, and he still sees hope to come back here," Schneider said. "What's the degree of hope? That's not my business. But he says I still believe I have a chance to come back here.

"My job is not to get into the money. But it does send me messages that he still sees a future here.

"He would like to get back. It's a big year for him. He's under a microscope," Schneider added. "He sees the Beltran stuff going down. He's no idiot. He wants to show his wares to baseball. The days go by and weeks go by and at-bats go by and he's not showing that."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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