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Sore hamstring means Roberts isn't man of steal

The Baltimore Sun

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A sore right hamstring has done what few American League catchers have been able to do this season - slow Brian Roberts on the base paths.

Roberts, who leads the American League with 19 steals in 22 attempts, doesn't have a stolen base in the past six games, but it's not because he hasn't been getting on base. He has had to be more cautious with a hamstring that started hurting about two weeks ago but only recently has led to his shutting down his running game to avoid a more serious injury.

"[I'm] just trying to protect it a little bit - just don't want it to get worse," said Roberts, who had three singles yesterday but didn't attempt any steals. "I just really haven't pushed it, I guess. ... I feel it on explosive [steps] - anytime I take off. I wouldn't say it affects me. It's just one of those things where you feel it."

Roberts said he intends to play through the injury, but he also knows he can't play the way he is accustomed to.

"I think it's hard for anybody to walk in and say, 'I need a day off,'" he said. "I can't imagine walking in [to the manager's office] and saying, 'I can't play today.' I just kind of told him I have to try and be smart. If there's an opportunity where I really need to try to steal a base or whatever, I'll do it."

At this point, manager Sam Perlozzo's plan is to rest Roberts in Wednesday's series finale in Seattle, the last game on the club's 10-day road trip. The team is off Thursday, so that would give Roberts two consecutive days off. Perlozzo said he'll also likely use Miguel Tejada as a designated hitter that day, meaning Chris Gomez and Freddie Bynum will probably start.

"That would be a day where you are just going to have to suck it up," Perlozzo said. "It's a long season. You can't afford to let those guys get hurt. That's a good day for Brian. Brian needs some time."

Markakis plays on

Walking with a slight limp after crashing into the wall Saturday while taking away a two-run homer from Erick Aybar, Nick Markakis remained in the Orioles' lineup and drove in his team's first run with a double in the third. He finished 1-for-4 with three strikeouts.

"It's sore, but I figure the more loose it gets, it will feel better," Markakis said. "It's just like a bruise from where I went into the wall."

Markakis, who acknowledged he didn't realize how good a catch it was at the time, watched several replays and said it was "exciting to watch."

"It was an amazing catch, one of the best you'll ever see," Perlozzo said. "It shows you something when somebody doesn't shy away like that."

Gibbons stays in slump

It is clear Perlozzo is running out of ideas of how to jump-start the bat of Jay Gibbons. Starting in left field for the second straight day with slumping Corey Patterson again on the bench, Gibbons went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He is in an 0-for-22 slump and has four hits in his past 38 at-bats, his average dropping to .205. Patterson entered the game as a defensive replacement and went 0-for-1, giving him two hits in his past 20 at-bats.

"It's getting harder with those two guys not swinging the bats for us," Perlozzo said. "It's one thing if you are not hitting a little bit, but the on-base percentages [aren't good]. At least you can walk, but that's not happening. It's pretty tough right now. If you are going to count on them at some point of the year, you can't count on them sitting on the bench all the time. But sooner or later, somebody is going to have to step up and get it going a little bit."

Around the horn

Perlozzo said he has considered using Kevin Millar in the second slot in the lineup, but he feels Markakis is doing a good job there. ... Perlozzo remains concerned about the lack of a long reliever and said he planned to discuss potential options with the front office. The manager said Rob Bell, who pitched nine innings in his last outing for Triple-A Norfolk, probably won't be an option for the Orioles until they return home. ... Todd Williams pitched two scoreless innings in Saturday's 7-4 loss, and Perlozzo said it was as well as he has ever seen Williams throw.

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