- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

BALTIMORE Some ballplayers wear their emotions on their sleeve. Willis Roberts doesn't just wear them on his sleeve. He wears them on his head, on his chest, on his face and on his hands.

When the Baltimore Orioles reliever records a key out, he reacts like it's Game 7 of the World Series. And more and more opposing players are voicing their displeasure with Roberts' antics.

"When a guy does things like that on mound, you try to get him," said New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who saw plenty of Roberts during Baltimore's 8-7 win Wednesday night.

The second-year Dominican right-hander got into and pitched himself out of tight jams in both the eighth and ninth innings. And with each out he recorded, Roberts came up with a new exaggerated display of celebration.

He pumped one fist. He pumped both fists. He pounded his chest. He pointed to the heavens and let out a primal scream.

"When I do it, I don't think about it," said Roberts, who has a team-best 1.65 ERA in 36 appearances. "It makes me a better pitcher. I am very focused right now."

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove and pitching coach Mark Wiley have talked with Roberts about toning things down. But even they reluctantly admit Roberts is a better pitcher when he lets it all hang out.

"Willis knows what we think about it," Hargrove said. "But if that's what Willis needs to make him good, then I'm not going to quibble with him. I personally don't care for it. But there were a lot of things I'm sure I did when I played that weren't very popular with my manager."

No rotation alterations

Yankees manager Joe Torre, who will announced his AL All-Star selections on Sunday, has said he will try to avoid taking pitchers who are scheduled to start on the final day before the All-Star break.

As it happens, Orioles rookie right-hander Rodrigo Lopez is scheduled to start Sunday, July 7 at Texas. Lopez (6-3, 3.11 ERA) has an outside shot at making the team, but Hargrove said yesterday he won't be adjusting his rotation to keep Lopez from pitching that day.

"I've thought about it the last couple of days," Hargrove said. "Somebody would have to make a real good case to me for me to alter the rotation to accommodate that. I'd hate to alter it and not pitch Rodrigo on Sunday so he could make the All-Star team and then have him not make it."

The 73rd All-Star Game is July 9 at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

Bedard hurt

Minor-league left-hander Erik Bedard, rated the Orioles' top prospect by Baseball America, was in Baltimore yesterday to have his elbow examined by Orioles team doctors.

Bedard, who is 6-3 with a 1.97 ERA at Class AA Bowie, was forced to leave Wednesday's game in the eighth inning after feeling a twinge in his elbow. The club did not have a diagnosis for the injury yesterday.


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