- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — If rookie second baseman Mike Fontenot has been overwhelmed by his first spring training with the Baltimore Orioles, it doesn’t show.

“He goes about his work like he belongs in the big leagues,” Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley said of Fontenot. “Guys in the first camp or second camp, they spend a lot of their time feeling their way around. But not him. He looks like he belongs here.”

Ask Fontenot whether he feels at all bewildered and the 23-year-old just smiles, aware of the opportunity presented him — partly because the Orioles have a new manager and partly because second base is suddenly a deep position.

“You’ve got people who have never seen you before, so you want to come in and make an impression,” Fontenot said. “Having had the chance to get people to see you is nice.”

That opportunity came quicker than expected for the 2001 first-round draft pick.

In the first inning of the Orioles’ first exhibition game, second baseman Jerry Hairston sustained a fractured knuckle on his right ring finger while sliding into third base on a successful steal attempt.

Hairston remains out, and Brian Roberts is being prepped to play second base in the April4 opener against Boston.

Fontenot, given the chance at some unexpected playing time because of Hairston’s injury, quickly made an impression on those who thought he needed more minor-league seasoning.

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