Roberts keeps cool in midst of hot streak

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Second baseman hit .385 last month

Baez bounces back with solid inning

Notebook

June 02, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When Brian Roberts returned to his locker in Kansas City earlier this week, there waiting was a detailed analysis of his at-bats against Gil Meche, who was starting for the Royals the next day.

The second baseman took a quick look at it and then tossed the reports into a clubhouse trash can. Roberts has always focused on himself, not the pitcher he is facing. And it doesn't seem to matter who Roberts is facing these days as he is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career.

Roberts finished May with a .385 average, the fifth best in the American League. He hit safely in 25 of 28 games last month with 20 runs and 11 stolen bases.

"[Hitting coach Terry Crowley] said yesterday, `You look so relaxed,'" Roberts said. "When you are going good, that's what happens. You don't panic. It's hard to explain, but it's one of those things that you try not to think about. You try to just do the same things every day and keep the same approach."

Roberts, who was 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI on Thursday, entered last night 10 for his past 21. With a .319 average, he has also surpassed Miguel Tejada as the team's leading hitter.

"He's been just tremendous for us," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "There's no question about it. When he gets on, something good seems to happen all the time. We felt like if he got through that year with the arm surgery, then he was going to be better for us. But he's been a little bit better than I think we expected."

In May, Roberts had a .485 on-base percentage, compared with .339 in April. Perlozzo agreed it's the best stretch for Roberts since he started the 2005 season on a tear and earned the starting second baseman's job in the All-Star Game. Roberts doesn't dispute that and insists he has made no changes. It is just a matter of his being more comfortable in the batter's box.

"I kind of have always been a see-it, hit-it kind of guy," he said. "You've seen me throw away my pitch charts. I haven't paid a whole lot of attention, to tell you the truth. Sometimes that is good, sometimes that is bad."

Baez is clubhouse favorite

Danys Baez is one of the most respected guys in the Orioles' clubhouse because of his attitude and his professionalism. Even during his struggles, Baez earned high marks from his teammates for always standing up and talking to the media, even inviting them over to his locker after some tough outings. That's why his teammates were so pleased to see Baez get out of a jam Thursday night to turn in a scoreless inning.

It was the first time in five appearances Baez hadn't given up a run, and when he returned to the dugout, nearly the entire team approached him in the dugout to offer congratulations.

"Baez is a tremendous piece of the puzzle in this clubhouse," designated hitter-first baseman Kevin Millar said. "He's gone through his tough times, but he's handled himself as a true professional. He never changed his attitude. He kept working hard. He pitched a big inning for us [Thursday night]."

Baez, who started the season as Chris Ray's setup man in the eighth inning, pitched in the sixth Thursday night. Perlozzo is trying to keep him out of tight situations until he gets back into a rhythm.

"I hope that helps us out a lot," Perlozzo said. "Danys needed to get us through that inning, otherwise I don't know what we would have done there. Hopefully, that gives him a little more confidence and it gives us another guy that we can put back in the later innings for us. Everyone is pulling for each other right now. They want him to get in there and do well so he can help us later on. Thank goodness, he got through that inning without any [runs] and, hopefully, that's going to help us down the road."

Minor league report

Triple-A reliever Paul Shuey was put on the minor league disabled list with hamstring problems, and the Orioles promoted reliever Jim Hoey from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk. Vice president Jim Duquette said Hoey, who had 14 saves at Bowie and hadn't given up a run in 18 2/3 innings, will pitch multiple innings as a setup man in Triple-A to prepare him for his future role with the Orioles. ... Radhames Liz, one of the club's top pitching prospects, pitched a no-hitter in Bowie's 5-0 victory over Harrisburg last night.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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