Markakis still being selective

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Rookie 1-for-12 but isn't pressing

April 24, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

NEW YORK -- Even with Nick Markakis in the midst of a 1-for-12 stretch that has dropped his average to .213, manager Sam Perlozzo has seen enough to conclude that the rookie outfielder's confidence has not suffered.

"If he was losing some confidence, I think you'd see him swinging at pitches he doesn't normally swing at," Perlozzo said. "He's still patient at the plate, trying to find his pitch. He is still not afraid to hit deeper in the count. I think if you saw him starting to chase, I would pretty much start thinking about it.

"I think he's a quick learner. If he can hold his own here for the next couple of weeks, I think he'll be all right."

Markakis, who did not play in the Orioles' 7-1 loss to the New York Yankees yesterday because left-hander Randy Johnson was on the mound, does have three walks in that span, including a key one late in the Orioles' victory on Friday that forced in a run.

"I am seeing the ball great," said Markakis, who has 10 hits in 47 at-bats and two home runs, and is second on the team with seven walks. "I am seeing a lot of pitches, making the pitchers work. That's all you can ask for right now if you are not hitting the ball."

Markakis, 22, who made the team thanks to a dynamic spring during which he hit .358, said his timing is off.

"My swing is not there right now, but I am going to continue to work hard and try to find it," he said. "A good series, a good game will get you right back in it."

Roberts sits

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts against Johnson, but that wasn't the reason that Perlozzo kept him out of the lineup. Roberts has been bothered by a strained left hip flexor that has made running difficult for the Orioles' leadoff man.

"It's been going on for a few days," said Roberts, who laughed when he was reminded that he had six stolen bases in the past five games despite the injury. "I think it is a little better. With my [surgically repaired left] arm, we talked about having a day off here and there."

It was just the second time this season that Roberts started the game on the bench. Roberts has hit safely in 11 of his past 13 games, batting .373 (19-for-51).

"In this kind of weather, we'll give him two days off," said Perlozzo, whose team is off today for the first time since April 4, a day after the opener. "I am thinking of him going out there on the [turf in Toronto]. We want to make sure we give him two days to heal up a little bit."

Terrero gets chance

Perlozzo used an all-right-handed lineup with the exception of Jay Gibbons. Gibbons, who had never faced Johnson before yesterday, was 0-for-3 against the former Cy Young Award winner with two strikeouts.

Outfielder Luis Terrero, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Ottawa on Wednesday, made his first start in center field, going 0-for-4. "We're going to take a look at Terrero and see what we've got," Perlozzo said.

Chris Gomez played second in place of Roberts, and Jeff Conine returned to left field after sitting for two games.

Still perfect

The Orioles didn't attempt any steals yesterday, keeping them 15-for-15 on stolen-base attempts, which the San Diego Padres have also done this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time since 1987 - the Chicago Cubs had 19 straight and the Cincinnati Reds had 15 in a row that season - that a team started the season with that many successful steals.

The last time the Orioles have had such a stretch was in 2001 when they ended the season with 20 straight successful steal attempts.

"The guys that can run have been doing everything that we possibly can expect from them," Perlozzo said.

Around the horn

The start of yesterday's game was delayed 41 minutes because of rain. ... After his 4-for-4 performance yesterday, shortstop Miguel Tejada has a hit in nine consecutive games. ... Johnson's 266th victory tied Bob Feller and Eppa Rixey for 33rd place on baseball's all-time list.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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