Millar wants to come back

The Baltimore Sun

It has been well-documented that the Orioles will target a first baseman and a left fielder this offseason. Kevin Millar doesn't know what that means for his future with the team, but if the veteran had his way, he would be back with the Orioles in 2007.

"Would I love to come back here and be the first baseman? Of course I would," said Millar, 34, who will be a free agent after the season. "I feel this team is not too far off, but they have to [make moves]. But that's their choice. I like this group of guys."

After a slow start, Millar is having a strong finish to the season. Including his 2-for-4 outing last night, he has hit .340 (33-for-97) in his past 29 games. He also has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games with a .375 average, four doubles and three home runs during that span.

It is no coincidence, Millar said, that his hot streak has come after the trades of designated hitter Javy Lopez and left fielder-first baseman Jeff Conine, which has allowed Millar to become an everyday player.

"It's been an odd roster from the get-go," Millar said. "Now, I have played consistently the last three weeks ... so the production is going to be there. But early on, there was me, Conine and Javy Lopez. You play three games, you go four and sit on the bench. I got 350 at-bats right now. A starting player has got 550 at-bats. That's a 200 at-bat difference. So you are going to see 12 home runs, you are going to see 60 RBIs."

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo praised Millar but said it is too early to determine his future with the club. "We have to see if and who we get," Perlozzo said. "I am sure we'll be talking to him and staying in touch."

Benson's options open

Kris Benson, who will pitch tomorrow after missing his last scheduled start with strep throat, still is undecided about his future with the Orioles. As a player with five or more years of experience who was traded in the middle of a multi-year contract, Benson has a contractual right to ask for a trade after the season.

He said earlier this season that he won't make a decision until after the season, and that hasn't changed.

"I'm not saying that I don't want to come back," said Benson, who is 10-10 with a 4.66 ERA this season. "It's a matter of talking during the offseason and [seeing] if we can work something out and make it worth my while and make it worth their while. It's just a matter of what their plans are with the team. I just want to be on a winning ball team. That's what it all boils down to."

Benson said he would like to sit down and talk to Orioles officials this offseason about the club possibly picking up his $7.5 million option for the 2008 season.

"I would like to have some type of idea where I'm at with the team," Benson said. "Of course with me being up after the season, that's something we're definitely going to have to broach."

Perlozzo content

Even before vice president Jim Duquette's declaration Wednesday that Perlozzo's job status is "not an issue," the Orioles' manager said that he wasn't "really concerned about it."

"I signed a three-year contract," Perlozzo said. "It seems to be other people's issues. But I will tell you that any job I've ever had in baseball, I have not taken for granted. I certainly don't take this one for granted, either."

Keylor, Hoey earn honors

The Orioles named Double-A Bowie outfielder Cory Keylor the organization's Minor League Player of the Year and right-hander Jim Hoey its Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Keylor, a 14th-round pick in the 2001 draft out of Ohio University, returned from an injury last season to hit .294 with 10 homers and 68 RBIs in 446 at-bats. Hoey began the season at low Single-A Delmarva before climbing all the way to the majors. He was 2-1 with a 2.54 ERA and 18 saves at Delmarva and posted a 0.64 ERA with 11 saves at Frederick.

Moved up again to Bowie, Hoey had a 4.00 ERA and four saves in nine appearances before the Orioles purchased his contract.

Injury update

LaTroy Hawkins (groin) won't be with his teammates in Detroit, but he is expected to join them for the three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that starts Monday. ... Center fielder Corey Patterson (shoulder) took batting practice for the second straight day yesterday. Perlozzo said he could be available to start tonight.

Sun reporters Roch Kubatko and Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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