TORONTO -- Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada has been asked about his sagging power numbers several times this season, and his answer has always been the same.
"I am not a home run hitter," he said. "I am a good player. I hit home runs, but I like to get base hits. I am more of an average hitter."
His numbers so far this season reflect that. Tejada is hitting a team-best .321 and entered last night's game tied for second in the American League with 50 hits. But he has just two home runs (tied for fifth on the team), and 18 RBIs, which is tied for third and only two ahead of catcher Ramon Hernandez, who has 96 fewer at-bats than Tejada.
Forty-two of Tejada's 50 hits have been singles, and his slugging percentage of .397 would easily qualify as a career low over a full major league season.
However, team officials have brushed aside the numbers and pointed to the fact that the shortstop tends to hit for more power as the season progresses. During his nine-plus years in the majors, Tejada has hit fewer home runs in April than any other month. May actually has been his biggest homer month - he's yet to hit one this month - although his home run totals do either go up or stay the same in every month from June to September.
Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said Sunday that he expects that to happen again this year and that his shortstop will start looking for pitches he can drive more.
"I don't necessarily call it swinging for the fences," Perlozzo said. "You expect him to drive the ball in the gaps at least. But if they are pitching him certain ways, he tries to take advantage of it."
Tejada had 53 home runs in his first 229 games as an Oriole, but he has had 33 homers in 295 games since. That included 24 last year, his lowest total since 1999.
He said it is no coincidence his power numbers are down, acknowledging that he has changed his approach the past couple of seasons. When Tejada was in Oakland, Athletics general manager Billy Beane called him "Mister Swings at Everything," but Tejada said since he became an Oriole, he has tried to work on his plate discipline and hitting the ball to the opposite field.
"When I played in Oakland, I worried more about swinging," Tejada said. "Now, I understand when I got to get a hit, when I got to swing for a single or when I got to swing for a home run. Early in the season, I try to get the most hits. Then later on, I try to hit with some more power. But I am not a home run hitter. "
Mora feeling fine
Third baseman Melvin Mora returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday with a bruised left palm. He injured it trying to catch a line drive in Saturday's game.
"It's not great, but it's OK," Mora said. "I am good to play. It's not swollen like it was yesterday.
O's to face Litsch
Orioles utility infielder Chris Gomez walked across the field before yesterday's game and spotted a familiar face. Jesse Litsch, who was called up to make tonight's start for the Blue Jays, was a batboy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when Gomez was with the team during the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
"He was talking about getting drafted [back then], and you hope the best for the kid," Gomez said. "But you never think you are going to face him. It is really strange. It just shows you how time flies."
Litsch, a 22-year-old right-hander, was 5-1 with a 0.96 ERA for Double-A New Hampshire. He was a 24th-round pick in the 2004 draft and has never pitched above Double-A.
Burres to get skipped?
With an open date Thursday and an exhibition game Monday, Perlozzo said he is considering skipping Brian Burres once in the rotation and getting him some work in the bullpen.
Burres is scheduled to pitch in tomorrow's series finale, but it's not known when he will start after that.
"I think the first go-around everyone is going to be on six [days' rest] and Daniel [Cabrera] might be the only guy on seven," Perlozzo said. "We'll see how it goes. Two off days, we might be able to use [Burres] in the 'pen a little bit."