ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After playing two games for the Orioles' Gulf Coast Rookie-level team, third baseman Melvin Mora appears ready to make a full-time return to the Orioles' lineup.
He'll report to Tropicana Field this morning, and if he gets clearance to play from head trainer Richie Bancells, he'll be activated from the disabled list and in the lineup for today's series finale against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Mora has made just one start since spraining his left foot in a play at the plate July 1.
"There's a good chance that he'll play tomorrow," interim manager Dave Trembley said before last night's game. "We said that when he comes back, he's going to have to be 100 percent. It's not going to be a situation with him that he can play one day and then six innings the next. He has to be 100 percent before he gets [activated]. We're telling him that's what's going to happen."
Mora went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run Friday and was 0-for-3 with a strikeout yesterday. Trembley said he had gotten good reports on Mora, who was running well and not favoring the foot.
Mora, who is hitting .265 with a team-leading 12 home runs to go along with 41 RBIs, has been on the DL since July 14. The Orioles will have to make a roster move when he is activated, and infielders Luis Hernandez and Brandon Fahey are the top candidates to be sent down.
Roberts gets rest
Second baseman Brian Roberts spent extensive time lounging at the hotel pool yesterday before reporting to Tropicana Field. He also got a massage and did other things he wouldn't have done if he was scheduled to start last night.
However, Trembley kept him out of the starting lineup for the first time since July 1. Roberts said it has been a long stretch, especially since he traveled back and forth to San Francisco for the All-Star Game, while most of his teammates had several days off.
Roberts said that though he would never ask for a game off, he did appreciate Trembley's gesture and thinks it's important to give everybody a day off once in a while.
"It's always good," said Roberts, who went 0-for-4 in Friday's series opener, ending a nine-game hitting streak. "It keeps everybody active. I think you have your guys that are going to play 155 games, but you also have guys that you can work in and keep others fresh. You got to keep people feeling that they are part of the team and contributing. It's not good for guys to go a month without playing."
Roberts has hit .342 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs against right-handed pitchers this season compared with .252 with one home run and six RBIs against left-handers. Scott Kazmir, one of the top left-handers in the American League, started last night for Tampa Bay, so it was a good night to give Roberts a break. However, he is 8-for-24 with a home run and four RBIs in his career against Kazmir.
Tejada designated hitter again
It's not something shortstop Miguel Tejada wants to get used to, but he again had no complaints when Trembley told him that he would be the Orioles' designated hitter last night. Tejada has made four starts at DH this season with two of them coming in the past six games.
"Tejada has been tremendous," Trembley said. "He said, 'Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it.' I'm not going to sugarcoat it. All these guys have been great. I talk to them and tell them what we're going to do. I don't ask them."
Around the horn
Utility man Freddie Bynum (strained left hamstring) started at second base for Single-A Frederick last night in his second rehabilitation game. ... Kevin Millar's error Friday was his first of the season. ... Orioles great Jim Palmer threw out the first pitch last night as the Devil Rays celebrated Hall of Fame Night. ... Nikco Sports still has Cal Ripken Jr. gold Hall of Fame baseballs with Ripken's picture and statistics on them. Order by calling 800-345-2868 or visiting www.nikcosports.com. Sales benefit the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.