Tejada regains touch in field

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Once viewed as slipping defensively, shortstop seems to be moving better

Notebook

August 20, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

As trade rumors swirled around Miguel Tejada last month, many speculated that he would have to play third base if he went to a new team. He had lost enough range that he was no longer a defensive plus at shortstop, the thinking went.

But Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said he has seen much sharper defense from Tejada in the past few months.

"He's in the game, I know that," Perlozzo said. "He's getting good jumps and he's moving better. I don't know if he's in better shape or what it is, but he's moving better."

Tejada appeared a step slow in the early months of the season, though he often compensated with his strong arm. His defensive reputation suffered.

"I hurt my hamstring early in the season, so my range was not the same," Tejada said. "Now, you know, I don't have any pain or anything. Physically, early in the season, I felt different. Now, I'm in great shape."

Perlozzo stopped short of saying Tejada arrived at spring training out of shape.

"I'm not saying that at all," he said. "Anybody who goes out and plays in as many games tends to get in better shape. He seems to be somebody who gets a little better as he goes along."

Tejada's defensive statistics for the year are solid. He ranks 17th among major league shortstops in fielding percentage but 10th in range factor, a figure that measures the total number of plays a fielder makes.

When asked about trade rumors last month, he bristled at the notion that another team might want him to play third.

Hawkins likely to stay

Reliever LaTroy Hawkins probably will finish the season with the Orioles.

The Orioles discussed possible deals with the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. They sought a major league-ready contributor in return but none of the possible deals came off.

One team official said the Orioles might be interested in bringing Hawkins back next season, but for less than the $4.4 million he made this year.

Thinking backup

Perlozzo didn't discount the idea of bringing reserve catcher Chris Widger back for next year. After four months of balancing Javy Lopez and Ramon Hernandez, he said he'd like to have a more traditional backup in 2007.

"We'll have to see who's available and how Chris finishes up," he said. "I'd like to see us have a nice, experienced guy who calls a good game and is a good teammate."

Perlozzo has been impressed with Widger's understanding of pitching coach Leo Mazzone and the team's starters.

"When he goes out there, he tries to implement a plan," Perlozzo said.

Roberts event tonight

Second baseman Brian Roberts will host a charity event tonight at the downtown ESPN Zone to benefit the University of Maryland Hospital for Children.

Roberts underwent surgery for a congenital heart condition as a child and routinely makes visits to sick children in the Baltimore area. Other athletes who will join him at tonight's event include Tejada, Erik Bedard, Jay Gibbons, a number of other Orioles teammates, Ravens receiver Mark Clayton and Baltimore Colts legend Lenny Moore.

Tickets for the event are $200 for adults and $150 for children under 12. To purchase, call 410-328-6064.

Around the horn

The Oriole Advocates received a $5,000 grant from Major League Baseball yesterday to support their Cardboard-to-Leather program. The Advocates buy up lightly used baseball and softball equipment and distribute it in poor sections of Latin America. ... Hawkins will appear on ESPN's Outside the Lines this morning at 9:30 to discuss the lack of black players in baseball. He will join former player Terry Pendleton and writer Roy S. Johnson on a panel. ... Yesterday's 15-0 loss was the worst shutout the Blue Jays have suffered since 1977.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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