ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- During spring training, Chris Hoiles appeared ready to play as advertised: good hit, questionable glove.
"I struggled on defense down there," he said. "But I was hitting the ball well. Now the role has turned. I'm not hitting, and I'm throwing guys out on the bases. As long as I'm doing something, I'm happy."
The Baltimore Orioles placed a lot of stock in Hoiles' ability to produce at the plate when they traded Mickey Tettleton last off-season. They still are waiting.
Hoiles' sluggish start has been magnified by the team's overall offensive problems, but as the Orioles met the Rochester Red Wings in the annual exhibition game with their Class AAA affiliate last night, no one was overly concerned.
Hoiles hit a bases-empty home run last night in the Orioles' 4-3 loss. Jeff McKnight homered for the Red Wings.
"We have confidence in this young man," said batting coach Tom McCraw. "We think he'll establish himself as a major-league hitter. We've seen signs in the last two or three days that he's ready to come out of it."
Hoiles, a sensation for the Red Wings last spring, was batting .394 to lead the International League when he was first recalled to the Orioles.
"I love the cold weather," said Hoiles, an Ohio native. "I don't think that is a factor in what I'm doing now. I just think I'm trying to do too much."
Hoiles considers his fast start with the Red Wings last season an aberration. "That's the only time it ever happened to me," he said. "I'm usually slow [in the early season], but I just kept going after that start, so I had a big year."
Hoiles has made some progress lately, going 2-for-7 with a double in his past two games after going 3-for-27.
"We looked at some Rochester film, and his stance has been much wider this year," said McCraw. "I don't know why. So we closed him up a little. He'll get there.
"I don't know of many young guys who just eat the league up right away. Even Willie Mays went 0-fer for a long time. Before it's over, Chris will be there."
Hoiles said he couldn't attack the high pitch the way he was standing and that his bat speed was too slow because of his big swing.
"I wasn't using my hips, but I'm working to get back to where I was, using the whole field and not trying to pull," he said.
Hoiles said he was happy to return to the city where he became a hero last year but that he would "rather be coming here with the Orioles than waiting for them to come here."
Site: Anaheim (Calif.) Stadium
Orioles starter: Ben McDonald (0-1, 12.27)
Angels starter: Kirk McCaskill (2-2, 2.84)
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)