Bigbie having second thoughts about O's batting order

Orioles notebook

After third game in spot, outfielder asks questions

March 05, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Larry Bigbie has hit second in the Orioles' lineup through two intrasquad games and yesterday's exhibition opener, and he's beginning to ask questions.

Bigbie approached manager Lee Mazzilli on the field during batting practice Wednesday to inquire about the change. He hit second only once last year, on May 14, and was third most of September.

Mazzilli said it's too early to decide Bigbie's placement during the regular season, and the left fielder has no complaints about his current slot. He just wants to know what's expected of him.

"If he determines that's where I'm going to hit during the season, I'll probably want to sit down and talk to him and find out what type of two-hole hitter he wants me to be," said Bigbie, who went 1-for-3 in the Orioles' 6-5 victory over the Florida Marlins.

"Obviously, the game situation will dictate what I'm going to do, as far as bunting a guy over and all that."

Bigbie also would inquire whether he should take more pitches to allow the leadoff hitter to steal second.

"It would be a whole different approach for me," he said. "That's why I'd want to know what he wanted from me. Would he want me to be a guy who lays down a bunt and tries to move a guy over, or would he want me to be a guy who just hits? We really haven't declared that because it's still early."

There's no fear of the unknown for Bigbie, just some curiosity.

"I'd love to hit second," he said. "I don't mind where I am in the lineup - second, seventh, eighth, wherever. I just want to know what he expects out of me."

The Orioles would settle for the same player who batted .345 in his final 46 games last season, the third-highest average in the American League over that period.

With Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro and Javy Lopez cemented in the middle of the lineup, Bigbie won't be batting third anymore.

He eventually could drop to seventh, with Melvin Mora moving to second, but he'll attempt to get comfortable behind the leadoff hitter.

"You want someone who can handle the bat and you want someone who can get on base," Mazzilli said. "He's one guy who can hit in that position."

Fontenot gets even

Mike Fontenot mishandled a potential double-play ball in the eighth inning, leaving him with a force at second base and allowing the go-ahead run to score. But rather than make excuses, he hit a two-run homer to win the game.

Nice recovery.

"I wasn't expecting it to go out," he said, crediting the wind. "I thought I hit it pretty good and it might get over the left fielder's head."

Conine stops by

The Orioles had one infiltrator in their batting practice group yesterday. He wore a Marlins uniform and a mischievous grin.

Jeff Conine, whose fifth season with the Orioles ended Aug. 31, wandered behind the cage to shake hands with his former teammates and coaches. Leaving them wasn't easy, but the trade enabled him to return home and win another World Series.

"My first game, I'm looking around the stadium, it's hot and the fans are all dressed like orange seats," he said. "I'm thinking, `What the hell did I do?' But it all turned out well, huh?"

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