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O's full of hope stands won't stay empty

The Baltimore Sun

One night after the Orioles set the franchise record for lowest attendance at Camden Yards, they were surrounded by more empty seats. Only this time, the weather was the sole culprit. No debating was necessary.

Last night's game was postponed because of rain, and a makeup date will be announced later. It wasn't the opponent, it wasn't the lowly national projections for the Orioles.

Not that the club seems overly concerned with Wednesday's announced turnout of 10,505 - almost 3,000 fewer than the previous low.

"Do we notice it? Yes. Does it bother us? No. We still have to go out there and pitch," reliever Chad Bradford said.

"You notice it, but it's early in the season, it's cold, it's the middle of the week. Hopefully it'll go up by the weekend. I think it all depends on how good we're playing."

Said first baseman Kevin Millar: "The bottom line is you have to win. They want a good product on the field. Also, you don't want to sit in the stands at 34 degrees. If it's 80 on Friday night or Saturday, it would be something to worry about. Plus, I've guaranteed a World Series this year. They'll be there for that."

Team spokesman Greg Bader noted that April is historically the lowest attendance month across the majors, "and games the week after Opening Day are traditionally among the lowest of the season for all teams," he said.

"The club's fan-friendly policy of permitting our season-plan holders to exchange tickets for almost any game, combined with school being in session, poor weather and other factors, all played a role. This is part of the rebuilding process, and we believe our fans are supportive of the new direction [team president] Andy MacPhail and [manager] Dave Trembley are leading us. By the end of the season, we fully expect our attendance numbers to be similar to what they have been in the recent past."

Welcoming Perlozzo

Trembley said he's looking forward to greeting former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo, who returns to Baltimore tonight as Seattle Mariners third base coach. Perlozzo gave Trembley his first chance to coach in the majors, assigning him to the bullpen last season - a gesture that won't be forgotten.

"I've gone on record as saying I'll be forever indebted to Sam Perlozzo for what he did for me. What he did for me was what a lot of guys said they were going to do and never came through and did," Trembley said.

Perlozzo intended to make Trembley his bench coach before the 2006 season, but a late change in plans left Lee Elia with the job. Perlozzo phoned Trembley as a courtesy to give him the news before he read it in the newspapers.

"I mean, they don't come much better," Trembley said. "I don't care what anybody says about Sam managing and this and that; as a person, this guy is first-class."

Friends to foes

The four-game series with Seattle also gives center fielder Adam Jones and reliever George Sherrill a chance to face their former team for the first time since the Erik Bedard trade.

"Hopefully, I won't start walking to their dugout out of habit," Sherrill said. "It'll be good to see them, but once we step on the field, it'll be business."

That's the same approach Jones is taking.

"They're still my friends, but once we're playing, we're in the game," he said. "There's no friendship there. They know that. Same thing. You think Bedard's going to have feelings once the game starts? Think he's going to give in? No."

Markakis Mohawk

Nick Markakis emerged from the clubhouse bathroom yesterday sporting a Mohawk haircut.

Markakis shaved one side of his head, and Luke Scott took care of the other. Markakis figured he would eventually have to get rid of the thick middle strip of hair, but he wasn't in a rush to do it.

"I thought I'd switch it up, have a little fun, get some looks from people," he said.

Trembley described the style as "brutal" and suggested Markakis shave the rest of his head.

Asked whether a Mohawk violated a team policy, Markakis said, "I'm not sure. We'll find out."

Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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