Wieters hits cleanup for first time in majors

Notebook

Looking to 'change routine,' Trembley shifts batting order

  • Orioles center fielder Adam Jones can't make a diving catch of a fly ball hit by the Rays' Ben Zobrist in the sixth inning at Camden Yards. Zobrist wound up with a triple on the play, and Tampa Bay went on to win, 5-1.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones can't make a diving… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
April 13, 2010|By Glenn Graham | glenn.graham@baltsun.com

Orioles manager Dave Trembley made significant changes in the starting lineup of Tuesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, looking to "change the routine a little bit" with the team off to a 1-6 start.

The most notable switch was who was batting fourth, where catcher Matt Wieters, in his first full major league season, got his first taste of batting cleanup for the Orioles.

Wieters, who first learned he was batting cleanup when he saw his name penciled in on the posted lineup card in the clubhouse, downplayed the significance, seeing it as a chance for the team to shake things up and find a way to win ballgames.

"I really think it's just when you're struggling, a change is always a good thing," said Wieters, who was batting .400 with one homer, two RBIs and three runs entering Tuesday's game. "It may not be a change that is going to be permanent, but just sort of a change that you give a different feel, and it can be a good thing for the team and yourself."

In 101 major league starts before Tuesday night, Wieters had 12 batting third, four batting fifth, 22 batting sixth, 21 batting seventh and 42 batting eighth. He didn't expect his 102nd start to be any different.

"I don't think there's really any difference," Wieters said. "Pitchers at this level -- they're going to have their scouting reports on you and they're going to pitch you pretty much the same way no matter where you hit in the lineup. The only difference is that you may have different guys on base in front of you or different situations to hit in."

Trembley likes the flexibility Wieters can provide in the middle of the order as a switch-hitter.

"I think you have to give people opportunity; you have to show confidence in them," Trembley said.

"The good ones have a way of rising to the occasion. They don't change, but it just gives them a little maybe shot in the arm; they like being the guy. And Wieters impresses me rather in a different kind of way. He's not boastful, he doesn't attract a lot of attention to himself, but he's a very important guy around here. So let's give him a chance. Let's see what we got."

Tejada, Jones shuffled, too

Trembley said that in addition to moving Wieters to the cleanup spot, he shifted Miguel Tejada to second from fourth in the order and center fielder Adam Jones to fifth from second because that's what he believed gave the Orioles the best chance to win.

Panic? No.

Urgency? Trembley said that comes with every game.

Tejada, who was batting .207 with one homer and a team-high six RBIs entering Tuesday night's game, spent the majority of last season hitting second for the Houston Astros, while Jones said he was fine with the move.

"Let's try to see if we can do something for both of them," Trembley said. "It's about the team, I don't even think it's about one guy. When you have nine guys and 25 guys and you try to put them in positions where not only they can succeed to the best of their abilities, but also to me it makes sense for tonight's lineup, it's a good lineup for tonight's game against a very good pitcher. We've struggled scoring runs; sometimes you shake it up a little and things just break out. That's my intent, just see if it breaks out."

Jones agreed.

"I'm in the lineup -- I don't care where I'm at. Doesn't it make sense to shake things up a little bit? He writes the lineup, so I just go out and play center field and hit wherever I'm supposed to hit. So for me, it's like, 'OK, cool,' " said Jones, who was hitting .223 on the season.

Pie on batting leadoff

One of the spots in the batting order that stayed put Monday night was at the top, where left fielder Felix Pie batted first for the third straight game.

In Monday's 5-1 loss to the Rays, he went 2-for-3 with a leadoff homer, a single and a walk. Pie said his approach at the plate doesn't change much when he's penciled in at the top of the order.

"Leadoff sometimes, when you play the game, you have to take a pitch or walk a little more. But I am the kind of guy, I have patience at home plate, but I like to swing a lot," he said. "No, no change for me. Because I am seeing the pitches good, and if I see a pitch that's good to drive, I'll swing."

Wherever it may be, Pie, who went into Tuesday night's game batting .364, just wants to see his name somewhere in the starting lineup. Trembley has liked what he has seen at the top of the order from Pie since regular leadoff hitter Brian Roberts (back) was placed on the disabled list.

"He might not always be the leadoff hitter, but he gives us a chance to score early." Trembley said. "I think he gives us a chance to get an extra base hit, to score from first on a double, he has some speed. I think he is a pretty good candidate to help us score first."

Around the horn

Reliever Michael Gonzalez rejoined the team Tuesday. He was in Arizona on Monday to witness the birth of his first child, daughter Arianna Marie, who was born just after noon Monday. ... With an afternoon game today to close out the series against the Rays, Trembley hinted that backup catcher Craig Tatum could get his first start as an Oriole. Tatum, 27, broke into the majors last season with the Cincinnati Reds, hitting .162 in 26 games.

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