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MOST VALUABLE ORIOLE A BIG DEAL TO ROBERTS

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said he didn't set out this season to justify the four-year, $40 million extension he signed in February.

One year in, though, he acknowledges that it's a nice feeling to reward the organization for making the investment.

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For the second time in his career, Roberts is the recipient of the Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award, voted on by members of the news media who cover the team on a regular basis. He was presented with the award before Saturday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Roberts, who turns 32 on Friday, established career highs this season in doubles, runs scored and RBIs, and set a major league record for doubles by a switch-hitter with 56.

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"It's not something you really set out to accomplish. I think when you start the season, that's not your goal," Roberts said of the award, which he also won in 2005. "It's certainly something that is humbling and very much appreciated."

Roberts finished ahead of right fielder Nick Markakis, the only other Oriole to receive first-place votes and also someone who signed a contract extension in the offseason.

"The organization put a lot of faith in me by giving me that contract and by investing in myself and Nick this winter," Roberts said. "And I think that we both tried to go out there and, you don't try to justify that, but I think you would certainly put some effort into trying make it seem like it's not a bad decision."

Adam Jones finished third in the balloting, and Brad Bergesen, Cesar Izturis and Nolan Reimold also received votes. Reimold was named the Favorite New Oriole by members of the nonprofit Orioles Advocates fan group.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he believes Roberts is a worthy choice.

"He had a career year, and he means a lot to the team, to the organization," Trembley said. "And I think he is probably one of the more positive professional role models in this city."

Coaching staff in limbo

Now that the Orioles have exercised Trembley's option for 2010, the focus turns to his staff and its future. Trembley said he will talk with each of his six coaches individually today, discuss options with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and then make a determination at some point this week.

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"I'm going to allow myself to go home on Monday afternoon, and I'm going to allow myself an opportunity to unpack and put some closure on this season, to think about what may be areas that could be improved and what I can do to make it better," Trembley said. "Then I'm going to talk to Andy about it, and I'm going to call each and every coach individually and tell them what their status will be for next year."

He wouldn't reveal whether he has already decided to make changes.

Shaping up for 2010

Trembley said there are at least two pitchers on the staff who must come back in better physical shape if they want to play for the Orioles in 2010.

He specifically pointed to reliever Matt Albers, who he said can be an effective big league pitcher if he can improve his conditioning and rediscover his late-moving sinker.

"He's gained weight. He's heavy," Trembley said. "He needs to make a commitment, and once he does, we'll see Matt Albers again, and I think everyone here knows it, and I'm going to tell him."

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Next year's starting rotation

Although offseason moves may alter the plan, Trembley said it would be fair to characterize next year's rotation as needing one starter to join 2009 rookies Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and veteran holdover Jeremy Guthrie.

"I think that's a fair observation, and I think that's OK to say that," he said. "But you don't know what Andy's going to do - how he looks at the club - what he wants to do to strengthen it. But I think that's fair to say that."

Around the horn

Trembley said he plans to talk to struggling reliever Chris Ray (0-4, 7.27 ERA) and stress that the club needs him to rediscover his split-fingered fastball and return to form in 2010. ... DH/outfielder Luke Scott (muscle sprain in left foot) said he expects to be the designated hitter today.


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