- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

OAKLAND, Calif. Baltimore Orioles manager Mike Hargrove has maintained all along that the club would promote its top prospects (like infielder Brian Roberts and outfielder Larry Bigbie) only if said prospects were going to be given a chance to play regularly.
So when the Orioles recalled Roberts from Class AAA Rochester yesterday, it was perhaps a signal that Hargrove is ready to make a change at second base, where Jerry Hairston continues to struggle.
"To say that Brian is going to be a bench player or a role player is not entirely accurate," Hargrove said before the Orioles opened a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics. "Brian will play and will play a lot. Until I can talk to the people involved, that's about all I want to say about that."
Roberts, 24, was not in Baltimore's starting lineup last night, though that likely had more to do with the fact that he played in a doubleheader Monday at Rochester and flew cross-country yesterday morning to join the Orioles. It's expected that he'll start at second base this afternoon and possibly bat leadoff.
In his third season in the majors, the 25-year-old Hairston has yet to blossom into the cornerstone player the Orioles have long wanted him to become. Given a shot to become Baltimore's regular leadoff hitter this spring, Hairston batted .315 with a .400 on-base percentage in exhibition play but has not carried that success over to the regular season.
Hairston came out of the gates slow, missed a week with a strained left groin, lost his leadoff spot to Melvin Mora and entered last night's game, which did not end in time for this edition, with a disappointing .222 batting average and .303 on-base percentage. Hairston, however, hit his first home run of the season in his initial at-bat last night.
Roberts, meanwhile, has hit .294 with 14 stolen bases at Rochester, showing enough progress to warrant a call-up by the Orioles. Though he played 75 games with Baltimore last season (batting .253 while filling in mostly for injured shortstop Mike Bordick), Roberts finds himself in a different situation this time around.
Roberts had not discussed his role with Hargrove before last night's game, but he seemed encouraged at the prospect of seeing regular playing time.
"I hope so," he said. "I'll just try to be ready if they call me."

Moriarty demoted
To make room for Roberts on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned seldom-used utility infielder Mike Moriarty to Rochester.
Moriarty, a 28-year-old rookie who had spent the entire season on the major-league roster, appeared in only eight games, batting .188. He had played just twice this month.

Lineup shuffle
Hargrove trotted out a new-look lineup last night against the A's. Designated hitter Marty Cordova, who had batted exclusively fifth, sixth or seventh this season, was moved up to the No. 3 spot. Rookie catcher Geronimo Gil was bumped up from eighth to sixth, and right fielder Jay Gibbons was benched against Oakland left-hander Barry Zito.


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