Orioles manager Johnny Oates has been persistent in his support for Tim Hulett.
"He always has been one of the guys I said I wanted on this club," said Oates. "He can swing the bat, catch and throw and knows his role. You don't ever have to worry about him being ready.
"If you play him 10 days in a row, he'll do the job or if he doesn't play for two weeks, he'll do the job. And he doesn't come expecting to play every day, although I'm sure he'd like to."
The faith has been rewarded. With Glenn Davis injured, Hulett has responded to heavy duty as the right-handed designated hitter with a .467 batting average.
Yesterday, Hulett delivered his sixth hit in the past three games, a two-run, seventh-inning double that gave Mike Mussina a 5-1 lead.
"We've seen a lot of lefties and that's helped," said Hulett. "But basically I've just carried over from the last part of last season. I swung the bat well in spring training, too."
Hulett said it doesn't matter if he sits for a long period; it won't change his approach.
"In my role you can't use that as a crutch," he said. "You just have to be ready."
Road return for Poole?
Oates said reliever Jim Poole might start throwing again Wednesday when the team is in Kansas City, Mo.
"He'll have more tests tomorrow and if everything goes as expected, he'll begin throwing," Oates said yesterday. "Before, the strength in his left arm was much less than the right, now it is much more."
Poole began the season on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left shoulder. Oates said if he passes the next tests, Poole will go on a rehabilitation assignment before activation to the Orioles roster is considered.
The lack of his second bullpen left-hander has been a disadvantage at times in the early going for Oates, but he said: "We have right-handers out there who have success against left-handed hitting."
Ben gets the bug
Ben McDonald has been the most recent Oriole hit by a stomach virus, reporting nausea and flu-like symptoms.
But McDonald said: "I'll be out there pitching" tomorrow night in the series finale against the Tigers. "I'm feeling a little better than I have the last couple days."
"It's the water," Oates said sheepishly. "I told our guys to drink milk. That's the answer. The one guy who drinks the most milk [Cal Ripken] is out there the most often."
Mills loses bag
Reliever Alan Mills, called up when Mark Williamson went on the disabled list, was carrying his New York Yankees luggage bag when he joined the team yesterday.
Mills, obtained from the Yankees on Feb. 29, was issued an Orioles bag when he was assigned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. But it was stolen from the Rochester clubhouse, along with some clothing, when the team was on a road trip.
Shower head update
Assistant general manager Frank Robinson said yesterday that the Orioles and Maryland Stadium Authority are working on the problem of the shower heads in the home clubhouse.
"Eight to 10 of them have been corrected," said Robinson, "and the rest will be replaced before the next homestand."
The pressure coming from the heads had been too strong and the water rush was irritating the players' skin.
Layana joins Wings
Right-hander Tim Layana, released by the Cincinnati Reds during spring training, has signed a Rochester contract.
He will report to the Red Wings tomorrow when they work out at Oriole Park en route to a series in Richmond, Va., that starts Tuesday.
The 2:15 p.m. workout is closed to the public.
Layana has a 5-5 record and 4.20 ERA in 22 major-league games with the Reds.
McKean missing again
Three umpires worked the game yesterday because Jim McKean still was bothered by an infected throat. McKean was forced to leave Friday night's game during the 50-minute rain delay after the first inning.
The Orioles have allowed only one run in the last 31 innings at home. The opposition is batting .158 at the new park. . . . The 4-1 start is the best by a major-league club in a new park since Montreal (1977) and Texas (1971) also went 4-1. . . . The Orioles have been at or above .500 for six days. They were at the level only two days last season. . . . The Tigers were held without an extra-base hit for the second straight game, the only times this year that has happened.