- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

BALTIMORE It was just one at-bat out of 186 for the Baltimore Orioles, but David Segui's eighth-inning plate appearance Sunday afternoon epitomized just how frustrating the first week of the season was for this team.
With two runners on base, two out and his team trailing Boston 4-1, Segui stepped in against Red Sox reliever Rolando Arrojo. He got a fastball over the plate on the first pitch, made contact and then watched the ball fall lazily into right fielder Trot Nixon's glove for the third out.
The aggravation in Segui's eyes was visible from the upper deck at Camden Yards.
"I had a good pitch to hit, I just missed it again. I've had about 20 AB's like that in a row," Segui said. "It's just one of those stretches you go through where you'd like to pull your hair out or tear the [stuff] out of something."
Segui isn't the only one who feels like tearing the, uh, stuff out of something. The virus that has infected Segui's bat has made its way around the entire Baltimore clubhouse, and the results aren't pretty.
Through their first six games of the 2002 season, the Orioles have scored 14 runs, a total that looks low on its own merits but is made even worse when you remember that this team put 10 runs on the scoreboard Opening Day against the Yankees.
The Orioles' team batting average stands at a paltry .167, and that number went up a few points after Sunday's six-hit "explosion."
Only two players on Baltimore's entire roster are hitting more than .200: right fielder Jay Gibbons, who is batting .368, and left fielder Melvin Mora, who is batting .235 and struck out four times on Sunday.
Needless to say, the Orioles aren't winning many games. They'll take a 1-5 record into tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Camden Yards, the first of three against their chief adversaries for fourth place in the AL East.
"We're six games into the season; I'm not going to panic," manager Mike Hargrove said. "There's no reason to panic. We've got a ballclub that played well in spring training. We've got good hitters in our lineup, and we've got to give them time and show patience and allow them to find their stroke."
The Orioles were not expected to be an offensive juggernaut this season. Baltimore was last in the AL in batting average (.248) and on-base percentage (.319) and had the worst slugging percentage (.380) in the majors in 2001, and the only key additions to this year's team are center fielder Chris Singleton (3-for-24 with no RBI) and left fielder Marty Cordova (on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps).
But the past week's production is troubling even by the Orioles' own low standards. Since their 10-run outburst on Opening Day (and seven of those runs came on two hits), the Orioles have averaged 0.75 runs and 4.5 hits per game.
In all fairness, Baltimore's hitters had the cards stacked against them in more ways than one. Pitchers generally have the advantage over hitters in April, the product of all the work they get during six weeks of spring training. The early season weather also wreaks havoc on hitters, and the temperature at Camden Yards never got above 54 degrees after last Monday.
And it's not as though the Orioles were shut down by watered-down pitching staffs. In six games against the Yankees and Red Sox the top two teams in the AL East Baltimore faced a who's who among major-league pitchers: Roger Clemens, David Wells, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Ugueth Urbina.
"We saw some great pitching," said leadoff hitter Jerry Hairston, who is batting .083 with a .120 on-base percentage. "Any time you get the Rocket Man, Mussina, Wells and this guy Pedro's not too bad either We've just got to hang in there. It can only get better."
Then again, the Orioles were nearly no-hit by Boston's Derek Lowe, a quality right-hander but hardly considered one of the best in the game. Baltimore's hitters are accepting some of the blame.
"We've faced some good pitchers," Segui said. "But the way we're swinging right now, you could run [third base coach Tom Trebelhorn] out there and he'd probably pitch a good game against us."

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