Cordova lets hot bat do his talking

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

At .360, newcomer prefers to discuss O's, not himself

May 05, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

One of the American League's hottest hitters can turn cold as quickly as he turns on a fastball.

Marty Cordova will talk about how the Orioles are playing. Just keep the subject off him specifically. Otherwise, his locker comes with a frost warning.

It's just not part of his personality to ramble on about himself, even after hitting a three-run homer yesterday in the Orioles' 10-0 win over Kansas City to continue a torrid stretch that's worthy of a few syllables. He also singled, walked and drove in another run, leaving his average at .360 with 15 RBIs.

Having been on the disabled list to open the season, Cordova lacks the necessary plate appearances to rank among the league leaders, but it's only a matter of time.

Cordova is batting .421 in his past 10 games and has hit in 17 of 20 this season. He's twice put together seven-game hitting streaks, the most recent ending on Thursday. Signed to a three-year, $9.1 million contract in December, he's already looking like one of baseball's biggest bargains.

"He's really a good player, period," said Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations. "He's an outstanding two-strike hitter because he uses the whole field, and he's played outstanding defense. He's exactly what we thought he would be."

The home run was his third this season and completed eight runs in the second and third innings against Royals ace Jeff Suppan. Cordova hit 20 last season with the Cleveland Indians and represented the most potent bat acquired by the Orioles during the off-season.

"The year he had last year was no fluke," said Jeff Conine.

The Orioles are 13-7 with Cordova in the lineup, 2-8 without him.

"I don't think he's doing anything differently than he's ever done," manager Mike Hargrove said. "Obviously, you don't do what he's doing unless you have a lot of talent. We were hoping to get a consistent bat in the middle of our order that would keep innings alive and drive in runs. He's certainly done that."

Third time the charm?

When Sean Douglass takes the ball for tomorrow's start, Hargrove knows what's required of the rookie to finally get past the fourth inning - something he hasn't done in two previous appearances.

"He needs to get the ball down and throw strikes," Hargrove said. "The thing that's probably been more surprising than anything since he's been here is his lack of command in the strike zone. But his last outing was better than the first, so if his third is better than the second, we're in good shape."

Douglass went 2-1 with a 5.31 ERA in four starts last season. He went 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA after a rough debut on July 18, when he was brought up for an emergency start against the Texas Rangers and allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings.

"We saw him pitch better the entire time he was here in September, so we know it's there," Hargrove said. "It's just a matter of him settling down."

"I know I can do better than I am," Douglass said. "I know if I throw bad, it's going to be hard on Grover. My two starts haven't been the quality starts that I expect of myself and he expects of me."

For now, Hargrove doesn't foresee moving Rick Bauer into the rotation and punching a hole in the bullpen, where Bauer has been effective in the later innings.

"There's no sense in weakening one of the strong parts of your ballclub, a part that really gives you a good chance to win," Hargrove said.

Fordyce doubles hit total

Brook Fordyce made his fifth consecutive start, with Hargrove choosing not to rest him following Friday's night's victory over the Royals. Catchers often sit out a day game after a night game.

Fordyce increased his average from .032 to .088 by going 2-for-3 with a walk. His two singles doubled his hit total for the season.

After saying he didn't consider starting Izzy Molina yesterday, Hargrove clarified his stance. "That's not entirely true. Yeah, I did, but it was real fleeting, so I guess that qualifies as a no," he joked.

Molina, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Rochester on Friday, could make his Orioles' debut today. "It might not be [fleeting]. Longer thought might go into it," Hargrove said.

Around the horn

Melvin Mora leads the majors in getting hit by pitches with eight. "They don't just kind of get him. They hit Melvin where it looks like it bores into him," Hargrove said. ... The Orioles raised $5,025 the past two days in silent auctions at the Community Booth to benefit the Salvation Army relief efforts for victims of last Sunday's tornado in southern Maryland. Among the highest-selling items: The opportunity to sit in the television booth for one game netted $420 on Friday and $700 yesterday.

Orioles today

Opponent:Kansas City Royals

Site:Camden Yards

Time:1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Royals' Chris George (0-2, 4.60) vs. Orioles' Calvin Maduro (1-3, 5.46)

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