Roberts' strong play eases concerns about his future

Notebook

Second baseman goes 8-for-22 in five games on trip

August 01, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There were very few positives on the field during the Orioles' 1-6 trip, which ended Sunday with a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals. However, the recent play of Brian Roberts certainly should ease concerns about the second baseman's future.

Roberts, who was held out of the starting lineup Sunday as the organization continues to try to give him periodic days off, went 8-for-22 (.364) with two doubles, three runs and a stolen base in five games on the trip.

He also felt no ill effects from the herniated disk in his back that kept him out of the lineup and on the disabled list for nearly 31/2 months.

"I feel better playing a week in the big leagues than I did playing two days in spring training," said Roberts, who has eight hits in his past 20 at-bats. "I'm really encouraged. Hopefully, we're past everything and I won't have any more problems."

Roberts, who was activated July 23 after a three-game rehabilitation stint with Double-A Bowie, acknowledged that he still had some anxiety when he returned because there were things he hadn't done. He hadn't stolen a base, one of his final acts before landing on the DL, he hadn't slid headfirst and he hadn't dived for a ball in the hole at second base. But he got all of those things out of the way on this trip.

"It's been better as we've gone along, actually," Roberts said. "I wasn't 100 percent sure what to expect. It took me a couple of days to get back into it, but physically, I am doing a lot better than I even expected to be doing. I don't have really too much left that I'm worried about. I've done just about everything that probably scared me coming in."

Roberts has been activated for 10 games and has sat out three of them. That kind of schedule doesn't figure to change over the final two months of the season.

"I kind of knew what the process was going to be," Roberts said. "I like to play every day, but right now, let's just be smart. I just want to get some games in going into the offseason and feel good about that. As much as I like to play, I'm not going to sit here and worry about it too much right now."

Patton hopes to stay for a while

Troy Patton's previous big league stint with the Orioles lasted just one day, when he was called up July 21 as insurance for a tired bullpen. He didn't pitch that day and was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk after the game, but not before gaining a piece of advice from Will Ohman.

Ohman's trade Saturday to the Florida Marlins opened up a roster spot for Patton, who will be used as a long reliever. Mark Hendrickson, formerly the long man, will be used more to get left-handers out later in the game.

"Ohman kind of alluded to this," said Patton, 24. "We were sitting in the bullpen that one day I was up, and he was like: 'They're thinking about trading me. If I get traded, you need to start thinking about how to approach hitters out of the bullpen instead of as a starter.' I didn't take anything too serious, but he was absolutely right."

Patton, who was 7-9 with a 4.80 ERA in 20 starts for Norfolk, is behind several of the Orioles' young starters on the depth chart, meaning his best chance for a prominent role with the club in the future might be as a reliever.

"I should be comfortable," Patton said. "I just have to go out there and throw strikes. That's the one thing I can do -- throw strikes. Hopefully, I'll be able to get ahead of guys like I do when I start and I'll just treat the third or fourth inning or whatever it is like it's the first inning."

Millwood gives souvenir

When he was removed from the game with two outs in the sixth inning, Orioles starter Kevin Millwood stopped before reaching the dugout and tossed his glove into the crowd.

Asked whether he did it out of frustration, Millwood smiled and said: "I didn't like it. It hadn't been good to me."

Around the horn

With the victory, the Royals finished with a 4-2 record against the Orioles this year, the first time they've won the season series since 2003. It was also the first time they had won a four-game series since going 3-1 against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 27-30, 2009. Â Orioles reliever Jim Johnson (right elbow inflammation) threw a bullpen session Saturday and will pitch in his first Gulf Coast League rehab game today. Â Millwood allowed three first-inning runs, the 11th time in 12 games he has surrendered two runs or more in the first inning. Â The Orioles' top three starters when the season began -- Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz -- are a combined 9-33. Â With a .305 winning percentage, the Orioles are on pace to go 49-113Â. Outfielder Felix Pie got picked off first base for the second time in two days. Â The Orioles hit into a total of seven double plays the last two games of the series.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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