Pop returning to Roberts' bat

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Still healing from elbow injury, he has 4 HRs in month

Tatis starts

August 19, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts has shown a rejuvenated power stroke in recent games, but manager Sam Perlozzo said he doesn't think Roberts will fully regain his right-handed pop until next season.

Roberts has played the whole season but started at less than full strength because of the elbow injury he suffered last September. He has hit four of his five total home runs in the past month. He led off Thursday's game at Yankee Stadium with a homer.

"I think most of it is I am healthier," Roberts said. "I really wasn't all that healthy in April. I still have a little ways to go. This winter is obviously going to be best for me. But it is one of those weird seasons where you actually got stronger as the season has gone on."

Four of the switch-hitter's homers have come from the left side. Perlozzo speculated that Roberts' right-hand swing may be weaker because he damaged the lead elbow in that stroke.

"I think he's probably not going to be as strong on the right side until next year," the manager said.

But Roberts was also more powerful as a left-hander last year, hitting 13 of his 18 homers from that side.

Perlozzo has said all season that Roberts might never repeat his power performance from last season. He's satisfied with his leadoff hitter's .299 average and career-high 32 steals.

"His power, it's not that important to us, to be honest," Perlozzo said. "I think he's going to hit 10 home runs. He might hit more if he's having a good year."

He's also being more selective. "He's taking a few more pitches early in the count," Perlozzo said. "I think overall, he's been a little more patient early on."

First things first

Fernando Tatis started a second straight game at first base yesterday and might play there periodically for the rest of the season.

"We'll continue to put him in here and there and maybe more than here and there," Perlozzo said. "He can play third, we'll get him a little more experience at first and maybe a little in the outfield."

Tatis is especially likely to play against left-handers. He had hit .375 with an .875 slugging percentage against them going into last night, when he was 0-for-4.

"The one thing he's been able to do for us so far is hit some left-handed pitching," Perlozzo said.

Tatis, out of the majors in 2004 and 2005, had played only one career game at first coming into this season.

"I'll get used to it," he said. "It's a new experience, and that's great. It's not easy. The way that I saw it before was that first base is easy, but it's not. I have to get used to everything."

Sorry, kids

Perlozzo said the club isn't likely to experiment with many new players in September.

"We play a schedule in September that you can't just go out and throw your young kids out there and not try to win the ballgames," he said. "We're playing all contending teams, and it's our responsibility."

He said he expects six or seven call-ups when roster limits expand.

Around the horn

The club will send outfielder David Newhan on a rehabilitation assignment to Double-A Bowie starting today. Perlozzo said Newhan, out since April 17 with a broken tibia, will play every other day for the Baysox and be assessed again in about a week. ... The Orioles hit and gave up leadoff home runs Thursday, the first time that's happened since Aug. 15, 1980, when Al Bumbry homered for the Orioles, and Willie Randolph did so for the New York Yankees.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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