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Never out of positions

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Trying to locate Scott Moore at Orioles camp has become a game in itself. All that's missing is the red-and-white striped shirt and he could be featured in a children's book.

"Where's Scott?"

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He might be taking ground balls at third base, unless he has joined the group at first. And don't be fooled into only searching the infield. If everyone else is breaking for lunch, Moore probably is breaking back on fly balls in left.

Moore has been employed at all three positions during the first six exhibition games. He has also moved to the back fields after the morning workouts this week to receive tutelage on playing second base from infield coach Juan Samuel and the outfield from spring instructor Butch Davis.

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"He's very valuable," said Samuel, who was a Detroit Tigers coach when they drafted Moore six years ago. "Any other position that he could master will only be a plus for him and for the team. Right now, we're going to focus a little bit more on second base. But he told me that in a pinch, if we needed him at shortstop, he could go in there, too."

One challenge at a time.

Moore slid over from first to second during an intrasquad game last week and threw out a runner trying to score the tying run in the final inning. It's only a matter of time before he auditions there in the Grapefruit League.

"The key for me is how he turns the double play at second base," Samuel said. "He's not used to seeing runners coming at him from that side. A lot of those guys, when they learn that position, you can see a little fear when they're turning double plays. That's something that we'll be working on a little bit more."

He won't hear any complaints from Moore, who has greatly improved his chances of breaking through the logjam at the end of the 25-man roster.

"It's been fun," Moore said. "Playing different positions keeps it fresh every day. And I feel fairly comfortable wherever I am."

The Tigers made Moore the eighth overall pick in the 2002 draft and put him at shortstop, but he moved to third the next year. The Orioles acquired him from the Chicago Cubs, along with reliever Rocky Cherry, on Aug. 31 and gave him nine starts at third and three at first.

On Sept. 20, Moore spent the final two innings in left field, and he started at first base the next night - the only time he played either position in the majors.

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Factor in his growing familiarity with second base, and he's taking on the pronounced look of a utility player.

"Of course, you'd like to be a starter every day somewhere," he said, "but if this is what I've got to do to help the team, I honestly have no problem with it at all."

Moore started at third base Monday but later went to left field and made a diving catch. One day earlier, he doubled in the ninth inning to tie a game against the Washington Nationals and scored the winning run.

"He's making some things interesting for all of us," manager Dave Trembley said. "He was on that back field after everyone left [Sunday] morning and went to lunch with Juan Samuel working at second base. The guy's got the right idea, and he's going about it the right way. I think he's getting some attention from a lot of us."

Here's another way to do it: By going 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored in Monday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and increasing his average to .571 with four RBIs.

"If you hit," Trembley said, "we're going to try to find a place for you."

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"I feel good right now," Moore said. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball really good out of the pitcher's hand. I'm picking it up right away."

That's what he's trying to do in the field, and the only way is through repetition.

"I told him the other day, 'You need to go out there during BP and take balls off the bat,' " Davis said. "That's going to be the most important thing for him. We can hit him fungoes all day long and he can cheat with the fungo, but for him to actually get better, he has to get them off the bat live. "

"He has that confidence in himself, and he's a utility player. When you're a utility player, you have to work at every area. And he's picking it up quickly. He's listening, he's attentive. The thing about him is, he wants to learn. When you say, 'Let's go,' he's the first one who's ready to go. That tells me he wants to get better, and he will get better."

Downtime for Moore comes when he returns to the team hotel. It's practically nonexistent in camp.

"It's about getting your work in," he said. "That's what we're here for."

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And his coaches are here, in part, to make sure Moore doesn't burn out before camp ends.

"Sometimes, you've got to back him off," Davis said.

Moore got a late jump on a fly ball from the Nationals' Ryan Langerhans in the ninth inning of Sunday's game, and it fell in for a double that broke a 9-9 tie. The Orioles rallied for two runs in the bottom half of the inning, with Moore providing the clutch double. But his biggest adventure came Monday before the bottom of the seventh, and no amount of practice could have prepared him for it.

Needing to use the bathroom at an inopportune time, Moore sprinted to the nearest facility inside the visiting clubhouse. Seven players and a pitcher stood on the field, and the crowd grew silent until Moore returned.

"I wasn't feeling that good," he said. "I hope I didn't hold up the game for too long."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com


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