Utilitymen Tim Hulett and Mark McLemore continued to make the most of their opportunities yesterday, answering John Oates' latest call with a big assist in the Orioles' 8-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Camden Yards.
Hulett, who started at third base for Leo Gomez, nearly hit for the cycle, getting a single, double and triple in four plate appearances.
He also scored an insurance run in the eighth inning, coming in on a squeeze bunt base hit by McLemore.
"I wished I had got another at-bat," said Hulett, when told of his near-cyclical performance.
The collision of Randy Milligan and Bill Ripken provided both Hulett and McLemore with more at-bats and they have responded, earning even more playing time.
Oates said: "I feel very comfortable when Timmy's in the game, whatever he's doing. He's always thinking, and he does all that he's asked to do."
McLemore, who is hitting .368 after yesterday's 2-for-5 performance, dropped a textbook bunt down the third-base line, then ran hard up the first-base line, applauding as he crossed with a hit.
"You put players in a situation where they can produce," said Oates. "You don't ask a slugger to bunt. Mark handles the bat well, and I knew he could produce in that situation."
About the only blot on the day for either player was Hulett's two errors, including a flubbed double-play ball in the third, which opened the door to four Seattle runs.
"I'll remember the two errors more than the hits," said Hulett. "But [former teammate] Ron Kittle once said, 'As long as you bring in more than you give up, you're OK.' "
* DAVIS SETBACK? First baseman Glenn Davis said he has experienced some "tenderness" during recent workouts but still feels on target to return to the lineup sometime this week.
"I've been pushing and pushing lately," Davis said before yesterday's game. "It [the rib-cage muscle] is a little tender from being used . . . but it's not a reversal tenderness."
Davis used the indoor batting cage and took infield practice.
Davis said that Oates and others in the organization had mentioned the possibility of his going to the minors for a rehabilitation assignment before returning to the roster, but said he probably wouldn't do that.
"That's up to Johnny. Johnny is in control of the situation," said Davis, who has not played since Opening Day. "I have confidence in him. I trust him and what he does."
Oates said: "He seems to be really upbeat and feeling well."
* LARGEMOUTH BASS: Yes, that really was former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey last night on "America's Funniest Home Videos," appearing to catch a fish with his mouth.
Dempsey said he developed the technique in 1984 in the Florida swamps, and footage of one of his "catches" appeared on the show that features wacky people doing wacky things.
"You go down below the surface with bait in your mouth and the fish swim right to it," said Dempsey. "I caught a bass. Bass are stupid, you know."
* AS THE TURNSTILES CLICK: Yesterday's crowd of 45,352 was the fourth sellout of the season and the second straight.
About 8,000 tickets are left for tonight's series opener with the Texas Rangers.