Benched Millar works on swing

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

He hopes Crowley sessions put him back in lineup

Roberts gets closer

May 17, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Kevin Millar failed to start for a fourth straight game last night and he's frustrated, but not with Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo.

"There's no doubt in my mind I'm not happy not playing, period," said the veteran outfielder and first baseman. "And I need to find a way to use this time in a positive way. People are going to look at you when things are not going your way more than when things are going your way. And I've got to find a way mentally to have a good attitude and come here and work hard every day and to not miss a session with [hitting coach Terry Crowley] and to not feel sorry for myself."

Millar is hitting .220 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 91 at-bats. He said he didn't come here to be a reserve.

"I signed here to play," he said. "I didn't sign to come over here and be a guy off the bench. It's been fine. It's been OK. I haven't hit. My only concern was I hope 80 at-bats don't dictate, and it hasn't. Sam and I spoke and everything is great."

Perlozzo said Millar has responded well.

"I think he understands that he wasn't swinging the bat as well as some of the other guys and that he needs to get it going again," Perlozzo said.

Millar arrived early yesterday for a long session of extra hitting with Crowley. He said he's working on thrusting his lead elbow down instead of straight out so he can hit inside pitches harder.

"Those are the mistakes that I've missed or popped up or just missed," he said of inside strikes. "It's not so much that they've attacked me, it's not that I've had bad at-bats, it's that I've missed pitches I should hit."

He called Crowley "the best communicator I've been around. The last three or four days it's been a tough situation personally," Millar said. "But this game tests you. At least I'm going to use it in a positive way. And when an opportunity comes again, I'll be ready for it."

Roberts ready for rehab

Second baseman Brian Roberts will return to action tonight in a rehabilitation start at Double-A Bowie.

Roberts ran sprints, took infield and hit in the batting cage before last night's game. He said the groin he strained more than two weeks ago felt almost normal.

"You can never simulate a full-game situation, but for what I did, it felt good," he said.

Roberts said he'd prefer to play against Boston tonight, but said if it's smarter to test the injury at Bowie, that's what he'll do.

Better place to train

The Florida legislature has passed $75 million in funding for improvements to five spring training facilities including the Orioles' complex at Fort Lauderdale.

Team and city officials will now discuss plans for the upgrade, which could involve renovations to the existing facility or the construction of a whole new stadium.

The Orioles have trained at Fort Lauderdale Stadium since 1996, but the facility has seemed increasingly outdated in recent seasons as neighboring cities have funded substantial face lifts for their spring complexes. The team's lease for the facility expires after next spring.

"This has been our goal all along," Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said of the funding. "It's a great first step."

The city has to match the state's contribution for stadium improvements. Team and city officials face an Oct. 1 deadline to apply for the funds.

The city and team will have to submit evidence of a long-term lease agreement when they apply for state funding later this year. That deal would probably last at least 15 years, Stetka said.

Team officials don't expect to hear the verdict on Fort Lauderdale's application for state money until early next year. Construction on the project probably wouldn't commence until later in 2007 or 2008.

Around the horn

Perlozzo said Triple-A Ottawa's Hayden Penn is the most likely candidate to fill in for an injured Daniel Cabrera next week. But he said Bowie left-hander Adam Loewen could also be a possibility. Cabrera (shoulder) is expected to be out at least two weeks. ... Outfielder Luis Terrero cleared waivers and was assigned to Ottawa.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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