With Brian Roberts on the disabled list, the Orioles have turned to Corey Patterson as a temporary solution in the leadoff slot.
That would have seemed unimaginable three weeks ago, when Patterson was usually anchored to the bench and failing to get on base when he did play.
But he raised his average more than 100 points with consecutive three-hit games last week, and manager Sam Perlozzo likes his speed at the top of the lineup.
"I don't know how many more options we have in that particular situation," Perlozzo said. "I think you always hate to move somebody out of a spot that's finally getting a couple of hits and getting his confidence back. But I think Corey's OK with that. He's been really great for us, spending his time on the bench not complaining and working hard."
Going into last night, Patterson had drawn only one walk this season, and his .300 on-base percentage paled compared to Roberts' .387. But Patterson said he won't change his hitting approach.
"I really don't think it changes things," he said. "What it still comes down to is you have to know yourself. Where somebody hits, that's just a number. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. Just because I go from seventh to ninth to leadoff, that doesn't change things."
He prefers hitting lower in the order. "Everybody has their preference," Patterson said. "[But] I'm a team player and I'll do what they ask me to do."
Perlozzo said if the Orioles remain in contention, he believes owner Peter Angelos might bolster the roster.
"I talked to him today, and he's still willing to help us out with whatever we need as long as we hang in there," the manager said. "So we've just got to keep our head above water for the next 10 days or so and force the issue."
Kevin Millar and Javy Lopez remained unavailable yesterday because of nagging injuries.
Millar has a bruised hand, hit by a pitch Saturday. Perlozzo said the hand remains swollen and Millar might not be ready for another day. Lopez missed a third straight game with back spasms, and Perlozzo said he also might be out another day or two.
Shortstop Miguel Tejada started at designated hitter for a second straight game as he recovered from a hyperextension of his left knee. He continued to run with a limp. "I feel better," he said before the game.
Outfielder Luis Matos (sore shoulder) is scheduled to come off the disabled list today.
With four home runs, Jeff Conine has already hit one more than he did all last season with the Florida Marlins.
"It's just one of those things," he said. "You know, I started off last year and didn't have much of a spring training because of my shoulder injury. I think I only got 80-some at- bats the whole first half, so I never got into a good groove."
Former Orioles closer B.J. Ryan made his first appearance at Camden Yards since signing a five-year, $47 million contract with Toronto in the offseason.
"It's a little different, but you're ready for it," Ryan said. "You knew you were going to do it eventually. So now that you have [switched teams], you just have to go out and do your job."
Perlozzo said he hasn't spoken to Ryan recently.
"It would be hard for anyone to turn down a contract like that when you really get down to it," he said. "It's obviously worked out for him. You could never say you wouldn't enjoy an extra arm like that in the bullpen. ... But I think the way Chris Ray has stepped in has softened that pretty much."