This was the Roberto Alomar that manager Davey Johnson has been waiting to see. The Roberto Alomar that Johnson has been afraid to push for.
Alomar and shortstop Jeff Reboulet made up the middle of the Orioles' infield yesterday, and they were in the middle of the club's success. Alomar had three hits and his first two stolen bases of the season, and Reboulet drove in a run and might have saved some others in a 9-5 win over the Seattle Mariners at Camden Yards.
For Alomar, his daring on the base paths is a good indication that the left ankle he sprained three months ago is improving.
Batting left-handed against Seattle's Dennis Martinez, he singled in the first inning, stole second and was driven in by B. J. Surhoff. He singled to lead off the third and scored on Surhoff's home run. He singled to lead off the fifth, stole second and scored on Surhoff's three-run triple.
And he allowed Johnson to breathe a sigh of relief.
"It was good to see that," Johnson said. "That one steal [in the fifth] was big. It set up the big inning. When Robbie's running, that just sets a whole new tempo in the ballgame. I love to see him run. I'd encourage him, but it's kind of like, 'I don't want to do this.' His ankle's not 100 percent.
"I felt like he did what he needed to do to help put some more pressure on them. We haven't been swinging the bats real well; we're real banged up."
Alomar, who extended his hitting streak to eight games and raised his average to .293, sat out the first two games of this series to rest the ankle.
"Maybe that helped," he said. "I'm getting more comfortable. I'm starting not to worry so much about it. It bothers me more hitting right-handed than left-handed. And maybe the weather helped me a lot. The hotter it gets, the quicker your body gets warm and stays warm. It could be different things."
As for jump-starting the team, Alomar said, "I think maybe we need to play a little more aggressive baseball. We have some guys who can run the bases. I'm glad I'm getting a little bit healthier. Whenever I get healthier and my leg is stronger, I'm going to run well. It's up to my leg to get better and get my confidence back."
Alomar's first two hits went to the opposite field. He later yanked one into right.
"When he starts hitting the ball like he did, off-speed stuff to left field, you know he's starting to see the ball," Johnson said. "To me, when I saw him take the changeup and go that way, take the curveball and go that way, and later on he pulled one in the hole, I know he's starting to feel much better at the plate."
Reboulet couldn't have played much better in the field. Starting at shortstop because of Mike Bordick's sore right ankle, he had six assists and a second inning suitable for framing.
With none out, he dived to his left to snare a sharp one-hopper from Rob Ducey and flipped to second for the force. Next, he ranged far to his left to field a bouncer over Scott Erickson's head and throw out Joey Cora at first. And he snared a liner from Alex Rodriguez to end the inning.
"I guess shortstop is the position I'm most familiar with, but at the same time I haven't been out there that much [two starts this year], so there's a real apprehension when you go out there. Since I was little I played shortstop. I didn't start being a utility guy for a few years," he said.
Reboulet singled to center in the second inning, hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth and was robbed of a homer in the seventh by Ducey, who leaped above the fence in left and pulled the ball out of the stands.
"I can't hit it much harder, but I think I needed to get a little more height," said Reboulet, who has 10 career homers, including one this year, in 1,062 at-bats.
"He told me he was going to get me back because I made the play on him. He got me. And I don't hit that many to begin with, so that was cruel."
Pub Date: 5/12/97