When pitcher Richard Bartlett was moved up from Delmarva to Frederick last year, he joined a Class A Keys team suffering through a nightmarish season. Frederick got off to a slow start and finished with a 47-92 record, the worst in its 14-year history and the worst in all of full-season professional baseball last year.
"When I got up here, we were pretty much in the hole," Bartlett said. "When you're losing constantly, it's hard to be upbeat about anything. . . . We had a good team, we were just losing. We couldn't put anything together."
Bartlett's transition was especially difficult considering he spent the beginning of the year with the Shorebirds, a less advanced Class A team, that reached the South Atlantic League playoffs and finished 76-64.
"It was a tough change," Bartlett said. "I came from a team [where] everybody really enjoyed coming out and playing."
This season, however, more than half of Frederick's roster is composed of players that spent at least part of last season with Delmarva. Bartlett thinks they have brought with them the atmosphere from last season's Shorebirds' club.
In addition to a new attitude and a new manager -- Tom Lawless -- the Keys seem to have the roster to make significant strides this season. Frederick has four of the Orioles' top 10 prospects, as selected by Baseball America.
Frederick opened the 2003 season with an 11-3 home loss to the Lynchburg Hillcats. On a night when the Keys celebrated their 15th season, they had a player from their inaugural 1989 team back on the roster, albeit for one day. Orioles designated hitter David Segui, who had been out with a fracture at the base of his right thumb, went 1 for 4 in his one-game rehabilitation assignment.
"My timing's a little rusty, but that comes with at-bats," said Segui, who is expected to return to the Orioles lineup today. Segui flew out to left field twice and struck out before an eighth-inning single to center field.