Hargrove pivots to Roberts at second


Manager tells Hairston he's still `asset' for team


May 23, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Orioles manager Mike Hargrove made it official yesterday, saying Brian Roberts will get the majority of the playing time at second base, ahead of Jerry Hairston.

But Hairston kept himself in the lineup, for one day at least, with a strong showing in Tuesday night's 14-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics. Hairston went 3-for-5 with a home run and a stolen base, as the Orioles rebounded after blowing a three-run lead in the eighth inning to pull out a 6-4 victory.

"That's the kind of player Jerry can be," Hargrove said, "and we need to see that more often."

Hargrove used Roberts as his designated hitter yesterday, one day after the Orioles promoted him from Triple-A Rochester. Roberts hit second in the lineup, and Hairston remained at second base, hitting ninth.

Roberts reinforced Hargrove's decision, going 1-for-1 with two walks, two runs, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly. Hairston went 1-for-3 with a run scored, raising his average to .241.

Before the game, Hargrove summoned Hairston into his office for a 30-minute meeting.

"Obviously Brian Roberts is here for a reason, and that reason is to play," Hargrove said. "Brian's main position is second base, which means that Jerry is going to get less playing time. I don't have a formula ... but Brian will get the bulk of the playing time at second base."

The Orioles are looking at this move as a chance to reward Roberts for his play at Rochester (.408 on-base percentage, 14 steals), and also a chance to perhaps spark Hairston.

"Brian's a very good player," Hairston said. "Obviously they want to go in that direction, and that's fine. I feel that I've been doing a decent job. I think I'm as good as anybody in both leagues, defensively. My offense is coming around, and that was the last piece of my puzzle."

Even with two players for one spot, club officials say they have no intention of trading Hairston or demoting him to Rochester.

"It's like I told Jerry," Hargrove said, "he's an asset. We're not in the business of trading assets, especially 25-year-old assets.

"I think Jerry's going to respond to this challenge," Hargrove added. "I think Jerry's going to be the productive player his talent says he should be. ... This really is the first time since Jerry's been here that he's had competition for his job - legitimate competition - and that's not a bad thing for anybody."

Cordova gets burned

Hargrove did not put left fielder Marty Cordova in the lineup yesterday because Cordova has been advised to stay out of the sun after burning his face in a tanning bed Monday.

"The doctor told him to stay out of the sun as much as possible," Hargrove said. "With a 12:30 game in California, it's tough to stay out of the sun. I probably will DH him [today]."

Phoning home

Orioles reliever Travis Driskill couldn't wait to reach his family after recording his first major-league win. The only problem was Tuesday's 14-inning marathon didn't end until a little before 3 a.m. in Baltimore.

Driskill, 30, has spent parts of 10 seasons in the minor leagues, recording 71 victories. He was pitching on 12 days' rest when he entered in the 12th inning with a 4-4 tie.

After shutting down the A's for two innings, Driskill watched as the Orioles took the lead in the 14th on run-scoring singles by Chris Singleton and Gary Matthews. Jorge Julio recorded the final three outs, then presented the game ball to Driskill.

"It just legitimizes everything I've done in my career," Driskill said. "It took me a long time to get here, and now it's in the record books."

Around the bases

With Saturday's scheduled starter, Sean Douglass, pitching 3 1/3 innings in relief yesterday, Hargrove said Driskill will likely start vs. Seattle. ... David Segui is still scheduled to miss 10 to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist Monday. Orioles vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift was told the surgery went as planned.

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