Perlozzo ponders ways to warm up chilly bat of Sosa

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rest considered, but he is `real close' to breaking out

Miller not in Oakland

Notebook

August 16, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - It's a question that his predecessor, Lee Mazzilli, was bombarded with during the season's first half. Now, Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo is starting to face it on a daily basis.

What else - if anything - can be done to try to jump-start the bat of Sammy Sosa?

"A couple of weeks ago, it certainly looked like he was on the verge of really breaking out of it," Perlozzo said of Sosa, who struck out in his first at-bat last night. "He has struggled a little bit in the past five, six days.

"I haven't talked to him about it really. There might be something I can do for him. Maybe he needs a day, maybe he doesn't. Sammy Sosa never ever says that he wants a day off. He plays hard every day and he does everything you ask."

During Sosa's first-half struggles, Mazzilli tried a little of everything to ignite Sosa. He moved him down in the order, then back up, even unconventionally slotting him second behind Brian Roberts and ahead of Miguel Tejada, hoping that would give Sosa better pitches.

Mazzilli also tried him at designated hitter and gave him consecutive days off, to try to get the slumping slugger to relax.

Sosa did appear to be breaking out of it, and was among the Orioles hottest hitters in the beginning of the second half. But he has again fallen on hard times. Entering last night, Sosa was 1-for-25 and hitless in his past 15 at-bats, his average dropping to .225.

Perlozzo hit him seventh Sunday - the first time he's hit that low in the order since 1993 - but the Orioles manager maintained that had nothing to do with his struggles. He was back in the sixth slot last night.

"I am sure he is working extremely hard to get himself going," Perlozzo said. "He is on this little streak where almost every hitter gets one at-bat where they get their pitch and he just misses it. He'll take a great swing at a pitch and he'll foul it back. He's real close to hitting one of them. When you do that, you quit thinking about it and you miss less pitches. That's what I am hoping happens."

Miller not with team

Pitching coach Ray Miller did not make the trip to Oakland so he could attend to personal matters. He is expected to return to the team for Friday's series opener in Cleveland.

Triple-A Ottawa pitching coach Steve McCatty, who was with the team earlier this season as bullpen coach after Elrod Hendricks' stroke, will be the pitching coach in this series.

Roberts gets day off

Before last night's game, second baseman Brian Roberts wandered over to the lineup card near the entrance to the clubhouse. His name was not on it, and even though Perlozzo had told him to expect a day off soon, it was almost like Roberts had to see it to believe it.

It was the first time he did not start since June 19.

"We've been talking about it for a month, so I guess we finally got around to it," Roberts said. "But I think it's necessary. I think everyone except Miggy [Tejada] needs one, and I think there's days that he needs one. Sometimes, I think that's the bad part of a [consecutive-games] streak. A manager, he doesn't want to be the one to break it. None of us are going to go to a manager and say we need a day off. Sometimes, you just have to take initiative as a manager and take a day."

Palmeiro faces media

Since returning last week from his 10-day ban because of a failed steroid test, Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro has talked about his desire to get things back to normal again.

On Sunday, he played in his first game since the suspension, hearing a mixture of cheers and boos from the fans at Camden Yards. Last night was his first road game since returning and Palmeiro, who did not start against left-hander Barry Zito, was the object of attention from the Bay Area media, which has following a steroid scandal of its own because of the BALCO investigation.

Asked what his expectations were upon coming back, Palmeiro said, "I didn't know what to expect because I've never been suspended, I've never been thrown out of a game," he said. "I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping for the best. You always hope people will accept you and that's all I can do right now.

"Well, my day will come when I can say what happened. As of now, I can't say anything. Hopefully soon. I've been told by my attorneys not to say anything."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Oakland Athletics

Site/Time: Oakland, Calif./10:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/1090 AM

Starters: Orioles' Bruce Chen (9-6, 4.16) vs. A's Joe Blanton (7-9, 4.05)

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