OAKLAND -- From the beginning of Spring Training, Magglio Ordonez vowed that his on-going contractual negotiations with the White Sox would not become a distraction to his on-field play.
That fact still holds true two months into the season, despite Ordonez having to flatly deny a contractual rumor coming out of New York prior to Tuesday's game in Oakland. But take Ordonez out of the lineup for a prolonged period of time and a definite problem arises for the All-Star right fielder.
Ordonez missed his sixth straight game with a strained left calf that appears to be bothering him more in the back of the knee area, especially when he runs. Ordonez probably won't play Wednesday afternoon but was not put on the disabled list because the White Sox couldn't get a player to Oakland in time for the early start.
But if Ordonez doesn't feel better Thursday, then he officially could be put on the shelf beginning with the series in Seattle.
"I never thought it would be this long," Ordonez said of his injury, suffered last Tuesday during an at-bat against Texas. "Now, I have a week without play. You get frustrated. You want to play and you can't because it's sore. You have to wait and see what happens.
"I'll just wait a couple of more days. If I don't feel better then, I guess I'll have to go on the disabled list."
In six previous Major League seasons, Ordonez never has gone through an inactive stretch as he's battling currently. To the team's credit, they have posted a 4-1 record without the help of Ordonez's .311 batting average, eight home runs and 34 RBIs.
The only loss suffered during his absence was with the White Sox's fourth try at cementing a fifth starter last Saturday. That spot previously came up short even with Ordonez playing.
Willie Harris, coming off of a four-hit game Sunday, earned a rare start against a left-handed pitcher Tuesday. Aaron Rowand moved over to right field.
"We've had a lot of guys pick up the slack," said Harris of the team coming through without Ordonez. "It shows the character in here. We have great pitching and good hitters. If we put it all together, we can be just as good as anyone."
"When a guy goes down like that, you just take it day by day," added White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Ordonez. "One day he feels worse then another. Now, he says he feels a lot better, but it's not completely, completely healed. He's just sore."
Ordonez was a bit sore at Jon Heyman, who reported in Sunday's edition of Newsday that contract negotiations with the White Sox had fallen apart. The report went on to say that Ordonez rejected a five-year, $70 million offer and was all but certain to leave, with the Mets becoming a suitable destination.
The report already had been brought to Ordonez's attention. He didn't seem to know anything about turning down an offer commensurate with his $14 million salary this season.
"No, that's not true. That's a lie," said Ordonez of the report out of New York. "I just read the paper and that's a lie. I don't know who said that and why they said I want to go to the Mets. It's a lie, that's all I can say."
Ordonez mentioned that Tom Reich, his agent, is still talking with the White Sox about a possible new deal. But the contract couldn't be further from his mind right now.
It's a question of getting healthy and contributing for the first-place White Sox. Not knowing where he'll be playing next year isn't nearly as bothersome for Ordonez as not being able to play for the past week this year.
"I just want to play my game and that's it," Ordonez said. "That's all I want to do.
"Winning is why we are here. We're not here to talk about contracts or anything else. You're just here to win. That's it. That's all that matters."