BALTIMORE -- He's already eclipsed his home run total from all of last season, but Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts refused Monday to declare himself a remodeled power hitter. Instead, on the day Major League Baseball named him the American League player of the week, Roberts shrugged off his team-high five home runs as a combination of luck and circumstance.
"Fluke," Roberts said, shaking his head. "I dont know. I feel like Ive gotten better every year, and this year maybe its translating into a little more power."
_____From The Post_____
The Tigers pound out 16 hits to help dump the O's, 13-3, Monday.
Notebook: Brian Roberts isn't geting caught up in his recent power surge.
What Roberts termed a "little" improvement, though, has attracted league-wide attention. Though his numbers reflect only a two-week sampling, Roberts entered Mondaynight leading the ALin batting average (.449), on-base percentage (.534), slugging percentage (.898), runs (15) and stolen bases (6).
The gaudy numbers have even surprised Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli, who hardly hesitated when asked if he thought of Roberts as a player capable of hitting 25 home runs in a season.
"No," Mazzilli said. "No. Nor do I want him to be. No. You'd rather have a guy who would hit .280 and have an on-base percentage of .400 for this team and go out and steal than getting the home runs. We have other guys who can hit home runs."
Said Roberts: "I'm the kind of guy who likes to, you know, manufacture runs.
"Hitting home runs is fun, though. Actually, I wish I knew more about it."
Mazzilli's biggest smile Monday came when he was asked about the scathing news release owner George Steinbrenner sent after the Orioles completed a sweep of his Yankees on Sunday. Steinbrenner criticized his team for lackluster play following Baltimore's first sweep of the Yankees since 2000.
"You know," Mazzilli said, "I'm not even going to go there."