Hot-hitting Roberts rewarded with AL Player of Week honors

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Second baseman hit .500, led O's sweep of Yankees

`most fun I had in 3 years'

Notebook

April 19, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Brian Roberts is having more fun than he's ever had as an Oriole, but he said personal accolades have nothing to do with it.

However, the Orioles second baseman, who entered last night's game with the Detroit Tigers leading the American League in batting average and on-base percentage, yesterday happily accepted AL Player of the Week honors.

"It's nice, honors are great ... but it's the way we played as a team that has been the most exciting for me," said Roberts, who also received the AL weekly honor in August last season. "This weekend is probably the most fun I had in three years being here, with the fans, the way we played. The personal honors are great, but we're looking for a lot more than that."

Roberts hit .500 (12-for-24) with nine runs, two triples, two home runs, six stolen bases and six walks in six games from April 11 to Sunday.

In three wins over the New Yankees this past weekend, the Orioles' first sweep of New York since 2000, Roberts was 7-for-12 with one homer (a three-run shot that gave the Orioles a 7-6 victory on Saturday), four RBIs, four runs, one triple, two steals and three walks.

"I'm very proud," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "There's no question that it was well deserved. Now, if he can do it again, it would be even better."

While his .449 batting average and .534 on-base percentage led the league through Sunday, Roberts also was tied for the league lead in runs (15) and stolen bases (six) and was second in RBIs (14) and homers (five, already tying a career high).

"That's just how this game is," said Roberts, who maintains that his home run binge has been a fluke. "You get locked in and you could get unlocked in real quick. You try to let the hot streaks go as long as possible, but who knows what's going to happen?"

Roberts went 1-for-4 last night in the Orioles' 13-3 loss to Detroit, extending his hitting streak to 18 games dating to last season, but dropping his batting average to .434, still tops in the AL.

Setting up roles

With the Orioles up by a run against the Yankees on Saturday in the eighth inning and a man on after Steve Kline walked Bernie Williams, Mazzilli brought in right-hander Todd Williams, not Jorge Julio, who was expected to be the Orioles' eighth-inning setup man.

Mazzilli said the move should not be taken as a sign that Williams has transplanted Julio as the prime setup man for closer B.J. Ryan. Rather, with no outs, Mazzilli said he wanted to induce a ground ball to potentially get a double play, and Williams is more of a ground-ball pitcher than Julio.

"They all have roles, but I think the game dictates where you use guys as well," Mazzilli said. "Ideally, you like to have that seven, eight and nine setup, but I don't know if you can have that all the time."

Julio pitched a scoreless ninth inning in mop-up duty last night, giving him seven appearances and a 1.35 ERA. He hadn't pitched since Wednesday, when he threw two scoreless innings against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Mazzilli mum on Yankees

After spending significant time in the Yankees' organization as a player, minor league manager and major league first base coach, Mazzilli has been asked before about the occasional outbursts from New York owner George Steinbrenner.

However, questioned yesterday about Steinbrenner's latest remarks, when he issued a statement Sunday ripping the Yankees for their slow start this season, Mazzilli emphatically had no comment.

"I am staying from that," the manager said, extending his arms as if to ward off the question. "I am staying away from that."

Awaiting Hendricks news

The Orioles are hopeful that longtime bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks will return to Baltimore within the next few days, though they are unsure when he'll be able to return to his coaching duties.

A team official said the Orioles have gotten positive reviews on Hendricks' progress since he suffered a mild stroke Thursday when the team was in St. Petersburg, Fla., playing the Devil Rays.

Hendricks, 64, has been undergoing further tests and working with a speech therapist at St. Anthony's Hospital.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site, time: Camden Yards, 7:05

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Tigers' Nate Robertson (0-1, 3.75) vs. Orioles' Sidney Ponson (1-1, 13.50)

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