First baseman Randy Milligan has been knocked down a couple of times this year, but he refuses to be counted out even as he struggles to get back on his feet.
Healthy again after a violent collision a few weeks ago in Kansas City, Mo., he has some catching up to do. He is batting .210 and figures to be getting some competition for playing time soon at first base, so why is this man still smiling?
"Mentally, you have to keep thinking positively," said Milligan, who has struggled to find the right formula at the plate. "You can always make excuses for why you're not doing what you should be doing, but you've just got to try and produce every time you're in the lineup."
Milligan has done that despite himself. He has three home runs and 13 RBI in 81 at-bats, which would project to more than 20 homers and 80 RBI over a full season. He may not be playing a starring role in the Orioles' surprising start, but he has produced some runs and filled the void left by the injury to Glenn Davis.
"As long as the team is doing well, I'll be happy," said Milligan, who understands that he has just delivered a cliche. "Sure, as an individual, I'm frustrated that I'm not doing better, but I could be doing a lot worse."
America's most wanted
Relief pitcher Alan Mills found himself in handcuffs during the fifth inning of Friday night's game, the victim of a bullpen prank that developed almost spontaneously.
Mills was trading barbs with one of the bullpen security guards when one of his comments apparently hit home. The guard radioed for a police officer, who came to the bullpen and placed Mills in handcuffs.
"He was fooling around with them, so they decided to get him back," said one of his teammates.
The police officer pulled it off so officiously that Mills actually thought he was being arrested.
"I thought the guys were pulling something at first," he said. "I said, if I'm paying my dues here, that's fine, but if this is a joke, it's time to tell me. But nobody said anything. That's when I really got scared."
Left-hander Jim Poole said he felt fine the day after throwing 13 minutes of batting practice Friday. He'll throw again Monday, then a decision will be made on when and where to send him on an injury rehabilitation assignment.
"I'm making good progress," Poole said. 'I'm happy with where I am."
Television viewers got a split-screen look at Cal Ripken -- then and now -- during Friday night's broadcast. The opposing pictures showed Ripken's batting stance during last year's MVP season and during his struggles this season. The difference was obvious. The 1992 shot showed him standing erect at the plate. The shot from last year had him in more of a crouch.
Of course, it's difficult to draw any conclusions from a couple of single images, considering the number of swings Ripken takes in a full season, but it was brought to his attention by someone in the clubhouse yesterday.
"Somebody tried to," Ripken said, "but I don't want to think about it."
The Boston Red Sox have scheduled a split doubleheader with the Orioles to make up last month's rainout at Fenway Park, but some Orioles are under the impression that they must approve such an arrangement.
A split doubleheader requires about a two-hour interval between games so the stadium can be cleared for a second paying crowd. Player representative Storm Davis indicated that the club probably would have no objection, but he plans to check with the Major League Players Association to see what the Basic Agreement says about the situation.
The normally happy-go-lucky Milligan was angered the other day when a reporter asked him if he was hesitant to go to his right after last month's collision with second baseman Bill Ripken.
"What kind of question is that?" Milligan said yesterday. "That's like asking a running back who just had a knee injury if he's afraid to run through a hole up the middle. If the answer is yes, it's time to find another business."