Notes: Seeking consistency in the clutch

Notes: Seeking consistency in the clutch

ST. PETERSBURG -- In the feast-or-famine experience that has been the Orioles' clutch hitting this season, those who struggled during Spring Training now reign supreme.

Take Javy Lopez, for example. The designated hitter carried an anemic .128 batting average (6-for-47) through the exhibition season, only to boost it to .333 once the year began. Or catcher Ramon Hernandez, who went from .231 this spring to a red-hot, .500.

"I made a note of this and I'm going to stick it on the Spring Training report for you guys next spring when you say, 'Are you at all concerned about the hitting?'" Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo joked.

Conversely, the sluggers who stood out the most in Spring Training -- namely Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Luis Matos -- have labored mightily through the team's first nine games. A slow start from its leading men has played a role during a time when the Orioles scored 16 runs in one game and zero the next day. No run support is a definite cause for frustration for any pitching staff. New Oriole Kris Benson, for example, had back-to-back seven-inning outings. The first ended in a 2-0 loss, the second an 8-4 win.

Benson admitted the lift starters get when they have a little cushion.

"It's definitely nice to [see the team] come out swinging," he said.

It would be nice for Perlozzo to see everyone, including his big bats, start connecting with the ball, but he doesn't want to get greedy.

"We need to get Javy, [Kevin] Millar and [Jeff] Conine swinging the bat, too," Perlozzo said. "You always want them all hot, as long as they can and as hot as they can. Maybe when somebody cools off, some of those guys will get hot for us."

Roster moves: The Orioles recalled right-hander Chris Britton from Double-A Bowie and optioned right-hander Cory Morris to Triple-A Ottawa to make room on the roster. Perlozzo said the move will allow Morris to get more innings under his belt as a starter, and give Britton a chance to continue an impressive Spring Training.

"We liked a little bit of what he did in the spring; mentally, we felt like he was tough enough," Perlozzo said of Britton. "He seemed like a bulldog who would take the ball from you and be resilient. We'll give him a shot."

Newhan banged up: David Newhan had the night off Wednesday against Tampa Bay. Perlozzo said Newhan wasn't in the lineup to begin with, but needed the day to rest a sore finger he bruised diving back to first base on Tuesday. Newhan was scheduled for X-rays as a precaution.

Injury update: Right-hander Todd Williams threw batting practice in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday, and he had no problems. The reliever is making what Perlozzo called "good progress" with both a sore throwing shoulder and calf muscle, and Williams is scheduled to throw a simulated game either Thursday or Friday. Williams was put on the 15-day disabled list March 24.

Did you know? Lee Elia came to the Orioles this season after working as Tampa Bay's bench coach for the entirety of ex-Rays manager Lou Piniella's tenure.

Quotable: "I don't really care how heavy you are if you can get people out." -- Perlozzo

Up next: The Orioles conclude their four-game stand at Tropicana Field on Thursday before heading home for a seven-game stretch. Left-hander Bruce Chen makes his second start for Baltimore, and he will oppose Rays righty Doug Waechter. Game time is 7:15 p.m. ET.

Dawn klemish is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.