Roberts Rounding Into Form

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 13, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 12 -- It should ease some concerns that in the past week Brian Roberts appears to have his hitting stroke back. Roberts had four hits in the first two games of the Baltimore Orioles' series this week against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which raised his average to .265 entering Wednesday's game. Roberts had just two hits in this past weekend's three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.

"I was obviously a little off the first week," Roberts said. "But in spring training, I felt fine. Just like anything, it comes and goes."

Though Roberts believes his timing is improving, he's almost sure he won't be in prime physical condition this season because of the severe elbow injury that he suffered at the end of last season.

"It's not like I'm completely out of baseball shape," he said. "It's just not like I was last year. I'm not that far off. It just wasn't humanly possible to get to that point this year. Physically, the limitations are difficult. . . . During the season, you're just trying to maintain the best that you can. Not a lot you can do to add. Your body doesn't work that way. Too much going on. But if I didn't think I was ready, I wouldn't be here."

Roberts said he won't change his batting approach although he might not be as strong as he was last year. But if anything, Roberts is more selective this season. Last year, he averaged 3.68 pitches per plate appearance. This season he's seeing 4.23 pitches per at-bat.

"It wasn't like I was trying to hit home runs last year," said Roberts, who last year hit .314 with 18 home runs. "I'm going to do the same things I've always done."

Williams Has a Good Day

Reliever Todd Williams had a successful live batting practice session Wednesday.

"He is making good progress," Manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We're hoping that he's going to do a simulated game in the next day or so. Then maybe he'll throw one more side and he might be better for a possible rehab assignment." . . .

Perlozzo said that reliever Chris Britton was recalled on Tuesday because they wanted Cory Morris, who was optioned to Class AAA Ottawa, to be used as a starter. For the moment, Perlozzo said he's unsure of Britton's role in the bullpen. Britton said he believes he is suited to pitch more than one inning at a time. "But I like pressure situations," he added. . . .

Orioles minor league pitcher Radhames Liz, ranked as the 12th-best Baltimore prospect by Baseball America, pitched five innings and struck out 12 as part of Class A Frederick's combined no-hitter. Liz and three relievers no-hit Salem.

UP NEXT Today at Devil Rays 7:15 p.m. Chen (0-1, 3.60) vs. Waechter (0-0, 7.36) WNUV-54, WTEM-980 Tomorrow vs. Angels 7:05 p.m. Lopez (1-1, 6.39) vs. Santana (1-0, 1.59) Comcast SportsNet, WWRC-1260

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