Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mora's Role on O's Widely Appreciated

BALTIMORE -- Melvin Mora has given the Orioles something they desperately need in the first steps of their rebuilding campaign -- a solid veteran playing well on a regular basis.

Mora made several good defensive plays at third base to help the Orioles split a two-game series with Toronto on Monday and Tuesday. He's batting .255 with a team-high three homers and has given the offense some punch from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Mora seems to have settled in nicely behind leadoff hitter Brian Roberts. The veteran can hit for average, power and is very good at bunting, a key component for a No. 2 player. He's also second on the team in total bases and at-bats and fourth in base hits.

But the most important thing Mora gives the Orioles is what he shows the younger players. His tough work ethic is something that manager Dave Trembley loves.

Simply put, Mora wants to play. Trembley wanted to pull him out late in Toronto's 11-3 rout of the Orioles on Tuesday. The skipper was concerned because Mora had injured his wrist trying to make a tag late in the game, but Mora wanted to stay in.

"I think you have to balance your club out with guys that know how to play and can teach those younger guys how to go about doing it," said Trembley. "I think Melvin has made some very positive contributions. He's been here in Baltimore for a long time, and I think it's good for our club to have those guys on our team."

Mora does so many different things to help the Orioles. He made several tough stops at third in the Toronto series, dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt and also hit a home run.

Mora said more people are noticing him because the Orioles have been near or at the top of the American League East during the early portion of the season.

"I'm the same guy as last year, the same guy every year," Mora said. "The only thing is, early in the year when you're in first place, people see the team more, when you're in last place, you don't see the team as much."

Mora has played several other positions for the Orioles and in the Major Leagues. But he may have done his best work since third base became his full-time position with the Orioles.

There had been offseason talk of moving him to the outfield, but Mora said he's glad to be at third base and playing well.

"I never forget ... all the positions that I play," Mora said. "I'm always thinking about second, short, center fielder, right field. Right now, I don't see myself playing another position besides third base. I feel great at third base. That's not an easy position, especially if you're not wearing a cup."

Trembley said not to put much stock in Mora's .255 average since it's early in the season. But Mora had a strong Spring Training and kept going once the Orioles came back to Baltimore.

"He's taken what he did in Spring Training, and it might not be indicative of the batting average, but the way he goes about playing and his approach and everything has been very good," Trembley said.


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