Hawkins relief to relievers, too


Veteran takes on mentoring role with young 'pen

errors abound


TORONTO -- When Daniel Cabrera was hammered for seven runs by Boston in his 2006 debut, it was Orioles reliever LaTroy Hawkins who took a seat next to the 24-year-old starter, and told him to forget about the outing.

When reliever Eric DuBose was optioned to Double-A Bowie, it was Hawkins who sought out the pitcher and reminded him that he was still relatively young and there would be better days ahead.

In his short time with the Orioles, Hawkins, who was acquired in a December trade with San Francisco for Steve Kline, has become one of the clubhouse leaders. He's not just become one of the elder statesmen in an extremely young bullpen. He also frequently counsels some of the club's younger players, such as rookie outfielder Nick Markakis.

"It was done to me," said Hawkins, who entered yesterday with a 3.86 ERA in 9 1/3 innings for the Orioles. "Guys like Kirby Puckett and Bob Tewksbury and Paul Molitor and Dave Hollins, guys like that. If I had a rough start, they'd come to me and say, `I believe in you, keep doing what you're doing.' That helped."

Hawkins, who is 33, admits that he often looks around and is shocked by how young the team's bullpen is. Closer Chris Ray is just 24, a year older than middle reliever Chris Britton. Other relievers Sendy Rleal and Eddy Rodriguez are 24 and 25, respectively.

"I just try to lead by example," said Hawkins. "I've never been in a bullpen with so many young guys. A lot of those guys are learning on the job, which is tough. As a whole, they are doing a good job."

Erring often

Miguel Tejada's throwing error in the Orioles' 8-2 loss on Wednesday was the club's 18th error, the highest total in the American League. The team's .978 fielding percentage entering last night was also the AL's worst.

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo admitted that finding a balance in the lineup has been tough because many of the club's top fielders have struggled at the plate.

"Obviously what we have is the opposites," Perlozzo said. "Our better defensive players aren't hitting, and our best offensive players are not the best defensive players. So somewhere in there you try to find a happy medium."

Around the horn

Reliever Todd Williams will be in the Orioles' clubhouse tomorrow to talk to team officials. ... Markakis will be featured on the cover of Baseball America's May 8-21 issue. Markakis is nursing a sore right hand, but he was in the lineup last night. ... Corey Patterson hit seventh in the order, the highest he has batted all season. jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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