His own photo inspires Tejada in trip to Hall


Staff encourages Patterson to bunt to help shake slump

May 23, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

Before this week, Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada had never been to Cooperstown, N.Y., to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame and he had no idea what to expect. But the last thing he expected to see on display was a giant picture of himself, along with the jersey he wore in becoming the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 All-Star Game.

"My wife, she almost cried. She said that she is going to take the kids there to see that," said Tejada, who took a private tour of the museum Sunday night with his wife, Alesandra, and several teammates while the Orioles were there to play in the Hall of Fame Game. "Even if I don't ever make it, my picture is still going to be there. I was really impressed.

"It gives me more energy to keep playing baseball. You see all the great players and then you see your stuff in the same room. It makes you proud. You want to keep playing hard. It fired me up. It makes me want to continue to keep playing every day."

Tejada was on the field about 2 1/2 hours before yesterday's game to take extra batting practice under the eye of hitting coach Terry Crowley. The shortstop acknowledged that he has had a flaw in his swing lately that has prevented him from hitting for much power.

Tejada hasn't homered since April 25, and he has just one extra-base hit in May. He said the focus of the extra batting practice session was swinging through the ball.

"I am getting on top of the ball too much," said Tejada, who was 1-for-3 last night with an infield single and a walk. "My swing is to go to right field and then if the pitcher leaves the ball right there, I can drive it. I am just trying to hit line drives. What I've been doing lately is hitting too many balls on the ground. [Crowley] wants me to drive the ball in the gap."

Tejada said that if he makes the necessary changes, he feels that his power numbers will come.

"I am not frustrated. I know how to hit. I've been hitting all my life," he said. "I am just kind of struggling right now, and I want to work because I know that I can be better. Everything is going to come. It's a long season and I don't worry about hitting home runs. I know that there are a lot of comments that I am not hitting home runs and I am not hitting for power. There are more than 100 games left and I bet you that Miguel Tejada is going to be in the position that he always is."

Patterson sits again

For the second straight game, manager Sam Perlozzo didn't start Corey Patterson, who is in an 0-for-17 slump and went just 3-for-29 on the Orioles' road trip. Jay Payton started in center field and Jay Gibbons played left.

The coaching staff has encouraged Patterson to bunt a little more to try to get himself out of his current slump, though the center fielder, who led the American League last year in bunt hits, said that teams are defending him differently.

"When they're playing you in, you don't want to bunt right at them," he said. "You really have to look and see what they're giving you. If they're playing back, you can bunt, but if they're playing in, it obviously doesn't make sense to bunt into an out. ... It's kind of the point in time where you have to take what they give you and go from there."

Patterson, who said he doesn't feel he is in a slump, said his impending free agency at the end of the season has had no bearing on his play.

"The smart people in baseball know I can play," he said. "And I know I can play, too. Contract or no contract, it doesn't matter."

Baez's role unsettled

Perlozzo remained resolute that he has not lost confidence in struggling reliever Danys Baez, though he wouldn't commit to the right-hander staying as his main setup man in the eighth inning.

"You got to start thinking about toying with something," Perlozzo said. "It's tough to not pitch him. He's got to pitch. We'll think about the seventh inning possibly some times, maybe look at some matchups where he would fit a little better just to get his confidence going. I am not saying that he won't come right back out here tonight with a lead in the eighth inning and pitch. That's what he is supposed to be doing. It's definitely something we'll think about, just to get his mechanics going."

Baez, who signed a three-year, $19 million deal with the Orioles this offseason to serve as Chris Ray's prime setup man, has given up two runs in four of his past five outings and has 10.80 ERA in May.


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