Miguel Tejada has started to snap out of it ... out of the two-week funk that dragged down his numbers and kept him from picking up his new team.
He had three hits on Thursday night in Los Angeles. He had another multi-hit game Friday in Colorado. It hasn't been a homerfest, but he started cranking out hit after hit just as people were starting to wonder whether maybe he wasn't quite the savior that everyone made him out to be when he signed that six-year, $72 million contract last winter.
The Orioles' biggest offseason acquisition had been struggling along with his sinking ballclub ... struggling to hit in the clutch ... even struggling to catch the ball at shortstop.
That wasn't what the club envisioned when it made him the centerpiece of its offseason rebuilding program, but Tejada insisted he wasn't worried. He learned last year that it isn't about how you start, but how you finish.
"It's a long season," said Tejada, who broke out of a 6-for-44 (.136) slump with his 3-for-3 performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. "It happens. We're all trying to do our best. Right now, everything is going wrong."
Manager Lee Mazzilli sees a team - and particularly Tejada - trying too hard to pull out of the recent tailspin that has dropped the Orioles into a tie for the basement in the American League East.
He winced Wednesday night when hitting coach Terry Crowley came in to clear field time at Dodger Stadium so that Tejada could come out for early hitting on the getaway day Thursday.
"Sometimes," Mazzilli said, "less is more."
But Tejada was out there early Thursday afternoon. No one has questioned his work ethic or his desire to win. He wants to be out on the field every inning. He's cut from the Cal Ripken mold in that regard, maybe to a fault, but he got a little testy at the suggestion that he might be trying too hard.
"I'm not trying too hard," he said. "I'm just getting out. Pitchers are just getting me out right now. I'm having a tough time, but I know how to hit. I know how to play this game. It's a long season."
He kept saying that, perhaps because of what happened during his option year last year. Tejada, hoping to build on a 2002 performance that won him the AL Most Valuable Player Award, got off to an abysmal start that threatened to erode his value in the free-agent market.
It didn't help - he batted just .161 in April - but rebounded in the second half and finished with a .278 average, 27 home runs and 106 RBIs.
This year has gone differently. He swung the bat well in April and now is seeing his numbers decline to about where they were at this time last season, though he still ranks third in the league with 51 RBIs. His recent struggles have been particularly noticeable with men in scoring position, the most glaring instance a double-play groundout with the bases loaded in the ninth inning June 12.
He's not alone.
"I'm trying to figure it out," Mazzilli said. "I think a lot of our guys are trying to hit a three-run home run with no one on base. Miguel is going to hit. I think that right now he's got to know he's going to hit, but it's not all going to come in one at-bat."
Tejada spent a large part of Thursday afternoon working on timing issues in the batting cage, lining balls all over Dodger Stadium. He looked like a guy who might be trying too hard ... a guy who might be frustrated. But then he came out and started hitting that night.
"I'm not frustrated," he said. "I only care if we're winning. I'm not worried that I'm not hitting. I'm worried that we're not winning. We just have to keep playing hard. That's all we can do."