Monday, April 21, 2008

Orioles Team Report Apr 21, 2008

The Orioles don’t want to make a change at shortstop, where Luis Hernandez earned his starting job because of excellent defensive skills. Hernandez bringing a top glove was a key factor in the decision to trade Miguel Tejada during the offseason.

Hernandez did hit .290 after being called up late in the 2007 season, but that was something the Orioles had not seen previously so they weren’t counting on his bat. But so far this season, Hernandez has been shaky in the field. His glove is what the Orioles were counting on.

“He hasn’t been the same guy. I think he’s in a fielding slump. I really do,” said manager Dave Trembley, who pointed out that while Hernandez has made only two errors, he has done several fundamental things wrong while in the field.

“I’m convinced that it’s more physical than it is nerves. I’ve watched him on tape … you saw on a ground ball his feet were too close together catching the ball, he was throwing off the wrong foot and the ump called a guy safe on a steal because he tried to do a two-hand tag,” explained Trembley as he tried hard to veil his frustration.

Trembley is in a quandary trying to decide how to handle Hernandez, who is currently hitting .226, which is a bit below the club’s expectations. But it is the fielding mistakes that have Trembley more concerned.

“I don’t see the same confidence we saw last year. It seems like he’s thinking too much when he should be reacting,” said infield instructor Juan Samuel. “He’s thinking what he wants to do with the ball before he sees the ball there. We saw some of that in spring training. He started out very good, but we’re starting to see some inconsistencies in some areas.

“I don’t think you should ever have a slump on the field. You should never take that to the field. I think I’ve adequately explained to him and on record that whatever I get from him offensively is a bonus,” continued the former major league infielder. “What I want from whoever’s playing shortstop here is somebody who can consistently hold down the anchor at shortstop and make the routine play.”

Yankees 7, Orioles 1: Alex Rodriquez and Hideki Matsui doubled off starter Steve Trachsel in the fourth inning and Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer off reliever Chad Bradford in the seventh, while Andy Pettitte was baffling the Orioles’ hitters. Derek Jeter hit a bases-loaded double to break the game wide open in the top of the ninth. The Orioles managed only six hits in the game that was twice delayed by rain in the late innings.

Notes, Quotes

• 2B Brian Roberts continues to struggle at the plate. Although he had a sacrifice fly on Sunday, he still ended the day on a 2-for-24 stretch that saw his average fall to .247 after hovering near the .300 mark for the first two weeks of the season.

• RHP Chad Bradford, who has given up only one home run in each of his last three major league seasons, was touched for a two-run clout on Sunday by Johnny Damon, the first batter he faced when relieving RHP Steve Trachsel in the seventh inning.

• LF Luke Scott’s seven-game hitting streak was snapped with an 0-for-4 effort at the plate against the Yankees on Sunday.

• LHP Adam Loewen, scheduled to pitch on Tuesday in Seattle, may be moved back to Thursday. Manager Dave Trembley implied on Sunday that the change would be made to give Loewen time to work on regaining command of his pitches.

• SS Luis Hernandez, who made the team because of his fielding, has been in a defensive slump with three errors in the first 19 games of the season. He worked with Coach Juan Samuel on his footwork when that, more than being nervous in his first major league season, was deemed his problem making plays cleanly.

By The Numbers: 3—Pinch-hit singles in three consecutive games put Jay Payton in the spotlight in Baltimore. Payton ran his hitting streak to four games when he broke up Andy Pettitte’s no-hitter with a fifth-inning, broken bat, infield single on Sunday

Quote To Note: “I’m kind of surprised that we’ve surprised some people, to be honest with you. The wins make it easier to sell that, not to the players, but to the people that are watching, the people that love and care about the Orioles.”—Manager Dave Trembley reflecting on the Orioles’ early-season success.


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