Roberts' workout shows he's about ready



SEATTLE -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts put himself through a strenuous workout yesterday at Safeco Field that went well enough for manager Sam Perlozzo to say that his return to the lineup is imminent.

"He's getting close." Perlozzo said. "There's no question about it. It could be one day, it could be two. I think he's pretty close."

Roberts, who strained his groin against these same Seattle Mariners on April 29, was eligible to come off the disabled list early last week. However, he still felt some pain in his groin that delayed his return.

The All-Star second baseman was on a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on May 17 and 18th, going 1-for-5 with a walk. He experienced some soreness in the area of his injury and the Orioles have decided to proceed with caution.

"I think he gets better every day." Perlozzo said. "The trainer said that he went through his exercises with a little more confidence today. That's a good sign. If he still feels it just a little bit and he's a little uncomfortable with that, then we are better to wait and see if it will go away."

Entering last night, the Orioles have used six different leadoff hitters, who combined to go 17-for-86 (.198) with seven runs and four walks in 19 games.

Patterson's lucky 7

Center fielder Corey Patterson is one of the Orioles that Perlozzo has used in the leadoff spot, but the manager said last night that he prefers hitting him down in the order. The numbers show why.

Patterson is 16-for-42 (.381) while hitting seventh, and 14-for-62 (.226) in every other spot in the order. Last night, he was penciled in the eighth spot.

"I like him where he's at right now." Perlozzo said. "We knew coming into spring training that we needed to get his mental aspect up and keep it going.

"If we can stretch him for as long as we can and keep him doing good so we have the player that we think we have, I don't think one spot is going to matter."

Perlozzo remembers

Perlozzo was a coach in Seattle under manager Lou Piniella. He was asked yesterday whether he feels Piniella will get another managerial job.

"Yeah, I think so." the Orioles manager said. "I feel confident that he still has plenty of fire in his belly. I don't think he's the kind of guy that likes to sit around. I would think he'd like to give it one more shot."

Perlozzo said that working under the fiery Piniella wasn't that difficult.

"Lou has the ability to weed out people that don't have some thick skin or are a little weak." he said. "To me, when it is all said and done, he's a great manager. The tougher the game, the better I think he manages.

"He loves that kind of competition, he loves that kind of challenge. If you can stand up to him and do your job, you won't have a problem with Lou. If you back down and go hide in the corner, you probably aren't as good of a coach as you should be."

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