- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2004

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada hopes a productive spring training will lead to a solid start to the regular season.

Tejada went 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .408 as the Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals tied 6-6 yesterday in a game called after 10 innings.

Coming off a 2002 season in which he was named American League MVP, Tejada struggled in spring training with Oakland last year and continued that trend in April and May, hitting just .176 through 32 games. He finished at .278 with 27 homers and 106 RBI.

“This year I’m definitely having a great spring training and hope I’m going to start the season good,” said Tejada, who signed with Baltimore as a free agent in December. He is tied for the team lead with two homers and ranks second with nine RBI.

Successive doubles by Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro and an RBI single by Javy Lopez gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead in the first against Chris Carpenter. Palmeiro singled in a run in the third to make it 3-1.

Greg Vaughn hit an RBI single for St. Louis in the fourth, and Jim Edmonds homered off Sidney Ponson in the sixth following a walk to Albert Pujols to put the Cardinals up 4-3.

It was the first homer of the spring for Edmonds, who missed the first 14 games after offseason shoulder surgery.

A two-run double by Jay Gibbons highlighted a three-run sixth for Baltimore, but St. Louis tied it in the seventh.

The deadlock snapped St. Louis’ four-game winning streak and ended a four-game skid for the Orioles.

Ponson was pleased with his performance in his penultimate appearance before Opening Day.

His pitching line wasn’t too impressive: four runs on eight hits over six innings. But those numbers will be long forgotten by the time the right-hander opens the season April4 against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.

At this point in the spring, the idea is to build up stamina, establish a rapport with new catcher Javy Lopez and work up a sweat. In that regard, Ponson had a good day.

“My shoulder and my arm felt great,” he said. “Throwing in the bullpen, I thought, ‘Wow, I forgot how good my shoulder used to feel.’ I always have aches and pains, but I feel great now.”

Ponson enjoys working with Lopez, who handled plenty of outstanding pitchers during his time in Atlanta.

“He knows how to keep me on my toes,” Ponson said.

Note — The Orioles released veteran catcher Bill Haselman. Haselman played in only four games this spring, going 3-for-8 and hitting into two double plays.

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