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Mora, Markakis settling into new roles

Mora, Markakis settling into roles

BALTIMORE -- It's officially a plan, as opposed to a trend.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said Saturday that he would like to continue batting Nick Markakis second and Melvin Mora third for the foreseeable future, cementing what had been a short-term remedy to get their bats on track. With Markakis and Mora both thriving in their new spots, Trembley said it made sense to keep them where they're comfortable.

"I think it makes our team more balanced," Trembley said of the new batting order. "Melvin has a lot of experience. He's played a long time, and it seems like the guy on most clubs that hits third is getting pitched the toughest."

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Mora's blend of batting skills -- extra-base power, speed and bat control -- make him a versatile fit in the No. 3 spot, and they also make the best usage of Markakis and his on-base skills batting second in the order. Trembley noted that Markakis fits better as a table-setter than as a run producer at this point in his career and said that Mora can serve in a wide number of roles.

Baltimore wound up losing Mora early in Saturday's game after he fouled a ball off his left knee, but the numbers tell the entire story. Mora is batting .304 with a .407 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging mark in the third spot, and Markakis is batting .359 with a .438 on-base percentage and a .594 slugging mark in 16 games as Baltimore's No. 2 hitter.

By way of comparison, Mora hit .226/.278/.374 prior to the switch, and Markakis hit .264/.374/.429 in the three-hole. Both players are expected to complement leadoff man Brian Roberts and give RBI chances to cleanup hitter Aubrey Huff. Mora has also proved to be opportunistic, batting .377/.469/.547 with runners in scoring position.

"Really, what makes our team go is Roberts getting on base and Markakis getting on base," said Trembley. "And Melvin has hit very well with men on base. Also, I've considered the fact that Markakis really seems to have settled into the [No. 2] slot and really hit very well in that slot. And at this particular point in time, I don't want to change it."

Trembley also noted that left fielder Luke Scott has begun to settle in, and he referenced a home run in Friday night's game to prove his point. Trembley said that Scott has begun to cut down on some of his pregame conditioning habits, which leaves him more rested for the games and more capable of producing to the best of his abilities.

"I thought he was working himself to death earlier," Trembley said of Scott, who was acquired from Houston last winter. "I thought he was taking way too much batting practice early -- way too much extra work. The guy's a perfectionist, but I think he's cut down on his swing. He's pretty good hitting the ball the other way, and he's been very good with men on base.

"He's a streak hitter. I think everybody knows that about him. That's his history. Once he gets hot, he goes really good. And I think with Luke -- like everybody else -- it's a confidence factor. And I think right now, he's pretty comfortable."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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