Dancing, prancing, hitting

Millar loosens proceedings with Ray Lewis impression, tightens game with 3rd-inning HR

The entertainer

Orioles Home Opener

April 10, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

Kevin Millar has regained his timing at the plate. Now, he needs to work on his dance rhythm.

Trying to spice up the introductions before yesterday's home opener and unable to find anyone who would take his request, Millar decided to emulate the steps that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis uses to ignite the crowds at M&T Bank Stadium.

Millar reached for a few blades of outfield grass and pretended to wipe them across his jersey. Then he broke out some of Lewis' signature moves before jogging down the carpet with a young male fan.

"I said, `Bro, don't run until I do my dance,'" Miller said as he sat at one of the clubhouse tables and finished his dinner after the Orioles' 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Said third baseman Melvin Mora: "I love that guy. He makes everybody relaxed. He makes everybody happy."

Adding a touch of humor wasn't the only contribution from Millar. And it certainly wasn't the most important.

Millar hit his second home run in two days, lining the first pitch from Tigers starter Chad Durbin, a sinking fastball, into the left-field seats to lead off the third inning and tie the score at 1. He ignited a four-run rally, and the Orioles led the rest of the way.

"I've had some good at-bats," he said. "Early in the season, everything is magnified, but it's only been 15, 17 at-bats. There's a long season ahead of us. We've done a good job and, personally, I feel good at the plate, so hopefully we can continue this thing."

Unable to stay healthy in spring training, Millar went 4-for-45 in exhibition games. He was 1-for-14 before Sunday's game at Yankee Stadium, when he drilled a two-run homer off Darrell Rasner after the Orioles had fallen behind 3-0 in the first inning.

"Here's a guy who started out slow for us last year and caught fire," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We looked at spring training last year. We had some guys who were the lowest hitters on the ballclub and after the first week were the highest three hitters."

Said Millar: "It was spring training. It's practice. It means nothing. You want to stay healthy, you want to have your good at-bats, but it's a different adrenaline when the lights come on. Spring training statistics are very overrated.

"When the lights come on Opening Day, that's when everything counts."

All that was missing for Millar yesterday was a reflective ball hanging above Camden Yards.

"That was the most scared I've ever been before a game," he said. "I was talking to Corey Patterson. I wanted him to do it, so he showed me a few moves."

Aubrey Huff and Jay Gibbons said they didn't think Millar would go through with it, leaving him no choice but to prove them wrong. And he has never been accused of being shy.

"I did it. It was very nerve-racking," Millar said. "I wasn't sure how good of a job it was, so hopefully it wasn't caught on tape."

Following Millar down the carpet, Patterson saw enough of Millar's performance live to make his own judgment. He mostly gave high scores, but perfection eluded the Orioles' designated hitter.

"Everything was good, but I think he went just a little bit too fast. He was probably a little bit nervous in front of all those people," Patterson said.

"We were talking about it behind center field, and I said, `You know, somebody should do that.' I should have known he would probably do it. I told him I couldn't; I'd be too embarrassed. But it was fun, good for the crowd and his teammates. He got us laughing. And then he hits a home run today, which was excellent."

Much better than his dancing.


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