Tejada likely in HR Derby

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's shortstop won event in 2004

Conine, Millar coming around

Notebook

July 08, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Cleveland -- Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada is leaning toward participating in the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night after saying earlier this week that he wouldn't.

"I'm not 100 percent yet that I'm going," he said. "But I'm probably going to do it."

Tejada won the 2004 contest in Houston. He also homered in last year's All-Star Game and was named Most Valuable Player.

"I think he enjoys that kind of thing," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "I think he kind of gets into it. I know it's a situation where the guys need to win out there. But it's nice to have some fun and relax."

Tejada said he had fun with the previous contest and would enjoy competing against his Dominican countryman David Ortiz, who leads the American League in home runs and is scheduled to participate.

Some players have blamed the contest for second-half slumps, saying all the free swinging cost them their line-drive grooves. But Tejada hit 19 homers and drove in 75 runs in the second half after winning the 2004 Derby.

"It's just one day of batting practice," Perlozzo said.

Though he's on pace to top 30 home runs for the fifth time in his career, Tejada was tied for 17th in the American League in homers going into yesterday.

He is scheduled to compete against Ortiz, Troy Glaus of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox, Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros, David Wright of the New York Mets, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins. Tejada had hit fewer home runs than all but Cabrera entering yesterday.

ESPN will broadcast the Derby at 8 p.m. Monday.

Conine, Millar heating up

Of all the Orioles' offseason acquisitions, those of Kevin Millar and Jeff Conine drew the most criticism early in the year.

Neither veteran got on base as much as the club had hoped in April and May. And both were mentioned as possible trade bait. But lately, Conine and Millar have become vital cogs in Perlozzo's lineup.

Conine drove in three runs as the cleanup hitter Thursday and is batting .350 in his past 10 games. Millar entered last night on an 8-for-19 run.

"We need those guys," Perlozzo said. "Our bench is a little thin right now and they pretty much need to be in there anyway."

Conine batted cleanup for a second straight game last night against the Cleveland Indians and Millar, who played sporadically earlier in the season, started for a sixth straight game. Perlozzo said he's enjoyed watching Millar work the count in recent at-bats.

"Kevin's always been a battler. It always seems to me the tougher the at-bat, the harder he concentrates," Perlozzo said. "There's no short-change thing coming from him whether he struck out or got a hit or whatever."

Forced rest for Ray

Closer Chris Ray didn't pitch in this week's four-game series in Chicago, and Perlozzo said he might have to use him in a non-save situation against the Indians to keep him sharp. In his last appearance, July 1, Ray allowed a home run against the Atlanta Braves. He hasn't saved a game since June 28.

"We've had him up and heated up two different times, so it's not like he hasn't done anything," Perlozzo said.

Markakis mending

Right fielder Nick Markakis sat out a third straight game last night.

But he was on the bench more because the Indians started left-hander C.C. Sabathia than because of lingering soreness from his strained calf. Perlozzo said Markakis, who was as hot as he'd been all season when the injury occurred, will probably start today or tomorrow.

Around the horn

The Orioles placed outfielder Luis Matos on release waivers Thursday, meaning they forfeited the option to trade him or send him to the minors. Other teams can either claim Matos or negotiate with him while he's on waivers, but he cannot sign a new deal before Tuesday.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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