Millar trying to be patient in reserve role


Missing from 5 of past 8 lineups, part-time DH says he's frustrated

May 01, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

DETROIT -- Kevin Millar was not in the Orioles' starting lineup for the fifth time in the past eight games last night, and he acknowledged that the frustration is starting to build.

"It's getting there," said Millar, clearly measuring his words. "I am just going to be patient at this time and let things play out. It always works out. But it's been frustrating. We've been losing a lot. We were playing good as a group and then we got in a tough spell as a team. Personally, you just wait your turn now.

"It is what it is right now. I am an employee here. If this is the direction that [manager] Sam Perlozzo wants to go right now, this is the direction that he is going to go. Numbers are numbers, computers are computers, and matchups are matchups. He is the manager. He makes the decisions. I got to live with them."

Millar has just two at-bats since Wednesday, as he has been the player most affected by the return of left fielder Jay Payton. With Payton out, Millar started 15 of the Orioles' first 16 games and was one of the club's best and most patient hitters through the first half of April.

But with Payton's return and his insertion as the everyday left fielder, Millar has been platooning at designated hitter with left-handed hitter Jay Gibbons, and it has clearly affected the 35-year-old's performance. He is hitless in his past 12 at-bats, dropping his average to .231. He has the second best on-base percentage behind Miguel Tejada among Orioles with 20 or more at-bats and is second on the team in walks.

"I didn't sign up for that role, anyway, to come here and play against lefties," said Millar, who started the season with a better career average against right-handers (.287) than left-handers (.285). He has also produced home runs more frequently against righties (every 25 at-bats, compared with every 34 at-bats vs. lefties). "All my damage numbers are against right-handed pitchers over my career. I've got a track record. They can go check the books."

Perlozzo said that he is aware of the numbers, but he also knows that Gibbons has done much of his damage against right-handed pitching. What has made his lineup decisions even more difficult this season is that Gibbons has swayed from his career norm and gotten six hits in 15 at-bats against lefties this season, while hitting just .140 against righties.

"It's an opposite effect, there's no question," Perlozzo said. "Those things have a way of evening themselves out as the season goes along. There's no need to worry about that 20 games into the season. You just have to ride it out and see what happens.

Millar is trying to do just that, but it is getting tougher and tougher each time he goes by the lineup card before the game and doesn't see his name on it.

"We've talked a little bit, but nothing was resolved," Millar said, when asked whether he has expressed his thoughts to Perlozzo. "I never got told ultimately what my role is, if I am the guy that plays against left-handers or what.

"I just come here every day, check the lineup and if I am in there, I am in there. You just use your opportunities and try to take advantage of them. I had an opportunity with Jay going down before the season. As a group, it seemed that things were going OK. But now, I have to wait my turn."

Roberts finding stroke

The Orioles' offense was a major disappointment during the three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, but one positive emerged in the performance of leadoff man Brian Roberts. The second baseman entered the series with a .232 average but raised it to .255 after the three games despite going 0-for-3 in Sunday's series finale. In the series, Roberts was 5-for-12 with two RBIs, three runs, a walk and a steal. He has now reached base in 13 of the past 14 games.

"I wasn't worried," Roberts said of his season-opening slump that had him hitting .139 on April 11.

Around the horn

Catcher Alberto Castillo cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. ... Third baseman Billy Rowell, considered the organization's top offensive prospect, is pain-free and could be close to joining Single-A Delmarva's lineup. Rowell, the Orioles' first pick in last year's draft, has not played this season because of an oblique injury.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.