Patterson finds comfort zone

The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK -- At this time last year, Corey Patterson's batting average was only slightly above .200, his confidence was low and he was facing an uncertain future with the Chicago Cubs.

Standing by his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium before last night's game, Patterson remembered those times and acknowledged the strides he has made in putting his dismal 2005 season behind him.

Patterson has a .278 average, 16 homers, 53 RBIs and 44 stolen bases. The center fielder was a late scratch from last night's lineup with a bruised left forearm after getting hit by a pitch from Cory Lidle on Tuesday. He was expected to get X-rays.

"I've definitely been better than last year," said Patterson, who hit .215 with 13 homers, 34 RBIs and 15 steals and was sent to the minors by the Cubs last season. "I'm really just trying to stay with the same mental approach, day in and day out, and not worry about my numbers."

Patterson, 27, was often maligned by the media and fans in Chicago, and he said that affected his attitude on and off the field. He vowed this year to not let things that he can't control bother him and attributed his outlook as a big part of his success.

The Orioles acquired Patterson in a January trade for minor league shortstop Nate Spears and pitcher Carlos Perez. Spears hit .246 with one homer and 25 RBIs for the Single-A Dayton Cubs; Perez was 5-8 with a 4.80 ERA for the same team. The trade looks like a steal now, but Patterson and the Cubs both felt that a change of scenery would be beneficial.

"Obviously, there are a few things that we'd like to see get better, like his on-base percentage. But he's picked up on the bunting, he's played good defense and he still has power to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We just need to get him on base a little more."

Patterson, who will be in his last year of arbitration after the season, said that this was an important year for him.

"I knew this year I needed to get my career back on track a little bit and I think I've done that," he said. "But in my mind, I always want to get better."

Sunday's starter unsure

A day after leaving his start with a strained lower back, Orioles pitcher Hayden Penn was feeling much better and responding to treatment.

He said that he should be ready for his next start, scheduled for Sunday in the season finale at Fenway Park in Boston. Perlozzo, however, wouldn't commit to the 21-year-old, though he said that he'd like to see Penn, who is 0-3 with a 13.76 ERA in five starts, pitch again this season.

"He's one of our kids who we brought up to pitch," Perlozzo said. "He's doing OK. The more experience we get for him, the better off he is going to be and we are going to be. He's missed some time this year. It's kind of important that he can get as many innings as he can get in."

Perlozzo said that if Penn can't start Sunday, he'll likely choose a starter among Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen and Russ Ortiz.

Broward County commits funds

Broward County (Fla.) commissioners Tuesday approved $800,000 a year over 30 years for the Orioles' planned renovation of their Fort Lauderdale spring training home. The county's offer is contingent on receiving funding from the state toward the $38 million project.

The Orioles also still need to complete a funding deal with the city of Fort Lauderdale.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel contributed to this article.

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