ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Cleaning Up With Switch In No. 4 Spot

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 12 -- Leading up to the Baltimore Orioles' 10-game road swing, Manager Dave Trembley shook up his team's batting order hoping to return some life to a lineup that had been struggling to produce runs. One of the major changes came in the middle of the batting order, where Trembley replaced cleanup hitter Kevin Millar with Aubrey Huff, who had hit mostly in the No. 5 spot.

At least early on, it seems the change has produced its intended effect.

In 20 games as the fifth hitter, Huff hit .205. But in 12 games in the cleanup spot -- which includes the last 10 games -- Huff is hitting .340.

"I just think he's a good hitter and he knows how to hit with guys on base," Trembley said. "It's been good for our lineup because we've been able to split up some guys but he was probably hitting the best of the group and it's probably helped Nick [Markakis] as well."

Millar also seems to have benefited from the move. Millar struggled to a .214 average with four homers and 12 RBI in 27 games as the cleanup man.

But he is hitting .294 during the 10 games he has batted either fifth or sixth in the order.

"I think it's helped the whole club," Trembley said. "Millar was trying so hard to knock runs in. It wasn't happening. That doesn't say that at some point in time I could switch it up again against a left-handed pitcher. But for now, it's worked."

Huff played down the significance of the lineup change.

"Four hole and five hole are pretty much the same position," he said. "You know you're going to be up there with runners in scoring position more times than anyone in the lineup with those two spots. It's probably a coincidence."

Hernández Has Bad Timing

Orioles catcher Ramón Hernández said a wrist injury that has sidelined him the last two games couldn't have come at a worse time. Hernández (.215) has slumped in a tough start this season even though he has hit the ball hard of late.

"I was getting hot," said Hernández, who went 2 for 4 on Friday, his last game. "That's how my luck is going right now I guess."

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