Despite the Baltimore Orioles' best efforts to keep the peace, it appears the team's volatile second base situation -- where Brian Roberts has made the majority of starts, with former starter Jerry Hairston in a utility role -- is on the verge of blowing up.
After arriving at Citizens Bank Park on Friday to find his name was not in that night's lineup, Hairston -- who went 5 for 8 with two doubles in back-to-back starts at second base Wednesday and Thursday in Kansas City -- expressed his displeasure in a lengthy closed-door meeting before the game with Manager Lee Mazzilli.
"I'm extremely frustrated," said Hairston, whose .318 average entering Friday night's game was 60 points higher than Roberts's. "And you can print that. I've been nice about it the whole time. [But] I'm an established big-leaguer, and I've been asked to do things an established big-leaguer shouldn't be asked to do."
Hairston stopped short of asking publicly for a trade. The team has entertained trade overtures for both Hairston and Roberts since spring training, but has been unwilling to give away either player for inadequate return.
"I'm not going to give away one of my players in a trade just to think you're going to solve a problem," Mazzilli said. "If [it] doesn't make us a better club, I don't see why we'd [do] that."
Hairston was the team's starting second baseman from August 2000 until breaking his foot in May 2003. He returned last September, but a broken finger this spring set him back further. When he returned again in May, Roberts was already established at second base, and Hairston has started games this season at left field (six games), right field (six), third base (one) and designated hitter (19), in addition to second base (nine).
"I don't look at [Hairston] as a utility man," Mazzilli said. "I look at him as a second baseman. The problem is, I have two second basemen that can play. [Hairston] is a good athlete, and if he can adapt to a different position, you want them both in the lineup. . . .
"I can understand if they don't like it. But you still have to play as a team."