First baseman Glenn Davis can't help but be frustrated at his anemic start at the plate, but hitting coach Greg Biagini has seen some positive signs during recent workouts.
Davis, who was back in the starting lineup last night for the first time since Saturday, entered the game hitting .187 with one home run and eight RBI in 24 games. But he has made some changes in his stance that Biagini hopes will get him back on top of his game.
"Yesterday in batting practice, he hit two-thirds of the balls out of here," Biagini said. "We've worked on a few things. He has gotten a little closer to the plate. We've got him standing in the box like he did in Houston."
If that is the answer, then Davis might again become the dangerous power hitter he was with the Astros. But if that happens, it raises another question. Why didn't the club try this sooner?
"Last year, we had to let him do what he was comfortable with," Biagini said. "He's a sit-and-spin hitter rather than a weight-shift hitter. A sit-and-spin hitter has to be closer to the plate."
Davis has had trouble with pitches over the outside part of the plate, which may explain why he has not been hitting for power. The new stance should correct that, but only if he can get around on the ball inside.
Oates on Cal
Manager Johnny Oates knows the numbers are not there yet, but he says shortstop Cal Ripken is settling into a groove at the plate.
"I just think he's swinging the bat real well right now," Oates said. "I can't say anything about the way he hit before I got here, but when I've seen him in a good streak, he hits line drives to right and he hits them to left. He has been hitting the ball everywhere from the right-field foul line to the left-field foul line."
Ripken came into last night's game with a six-game hitting streak that raised his average from .223 to .246.
And the winner is . . .
The suspense should be ending soon for fans entered in lotteries for tickets to this year's All-Star Game at Camden Yards. The Orioles have begun selecting entries from among 200,000 postcards, and winners are expected to be notified by the end of next week, team spokesman Rick Vaughn said.
About 10,000 tickets are up for grabs in two lotteries, one open only to Orioles partial season-ticket buyers and another to the general public. Winners will receive a letter from the Orioles with an offer to buy two tickets for the July 13 classic, the first All-Star Game played in Baltimore in 35 years.
Ticket notices also will be on their way to 81-game plan holders, who are eligible to buy a like number of seats for the All-Star Game.
No. 4 jinx
The Orioles are the only team in baseball that does not have a single home run out of the cleanup spot this year. The last time a No. 4 hitter went deep for the club was on Sept. 30 of last year, when Davis homered in Detroit.
Long and short of it
The Orioles hit 16 home runs in their first 31 games, the fewest over that span since 1976 and tied for the second-fewest for the first 31 games in club history.
Meanwhile, Orioles starters allowed 28 home runs in the first 31 games, the most of any American League rotation.
Brady bouncing back?
Brady Anderson entered last night with just two hits in his previous 32 at-bats, which may be connected to the lingering case of the flu.
"I don't want to say that," he said. "I'm just kind of dead, but I'm going to play through it. I'll be all right."
Former Orioles pitcher Scott McGregor was scheduled to become an ordained minister last night at the Rock Church in Norfolk, Va.
The Orioles have not been shut out in back-to-back games since May 21-22, 1983, when Dave Stieb and Jim Clancy turned the trick for the Toronto Blue Jays. Going into last night, that was a span of 1,609 games. The record is 2,097 games by Detroit (1976-89).
The Red Sox signed former major-league first baseman Franklin Stubbs to a minor-league contract.
Stubbs was pursued by numerous teams, including the Orioles, before signing a three-year, $6 million contract in 1990 with Milwaukee.