By Craig Heist
Despite heading for yet another fourth place finish in the American League East and a ninth straight losing season, the Orioles have gotten the usual effort from shortstop Miguel Tejada.
Sunday, Tejada was voted the winner of the Louis M. Hatter Award as the team's Most Valuable Player for the second time in the last three years. The award is voted on by the media who cover the team regularly.
Tejada ended a drought of 120 at-bats without a home run Sunday, hitting two solo shots against the Twins in a 6-3 loss. Tejada is hitting .332 with 24 home runs and 97 RBIs while slugging .506 with an on base percentage of .381.
Miguel Tejada was voted the winner of the Louis M. Hatter Award as the team's Most Valuable Player for the second time in the last three years.
"I think this is the best season in my career. I never thought I would be so consistent in my batting average. The home runs, that's something that comes by itself, but to be consistent with the batting average is something I have always wanted in my career, and that's what I tried to do."
Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said Tejada was the right choice, and the process this year shows the Orioles are moving in the right direction.
"I think it's a good choice," Perlozzo said. "I think what's even better is we had three or four choices. When the decision becomes tougher and tougher like that, it means we're going to get better and better."
That's what Tejada is hoping. He has been in Baltimore for three years, and this is the third straight season he has been on the outside looking in on postseason play.
When asked if he was looking forward to being back with the Orioles next year, Tejada made it clear he wants to win.
"I am here," he said. "I still have three years here, and I would like to win here. I would like to play for something. I just don't want to come here and play baseball. I mean, I love baseball, but at the same time, I love winning.
"Everybody in this room, it's time we start tearing it up. We all love to win. We have three young guys who can help put our team back to where it needs to be. I think [Erik] Bedard, [Daniel] Cabrera and [Adam] Loewen -- they are young, and they have talent, and they can help take us to another level."
His teammates watch Tejada on the field everyday and they see his passion for winning and getting to the playoffs.
"I'll tell you what, he has been everything," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "He is a great guy and a tremendous person. He has 200 hits now, and that, I think, is very underrated and I don't think he gets enough credit for doing it. He is everything on the baseball field you can ask. It has been great playing with him, and I hope I get a chance to do it again next year and get this thing turned around, because you know he wants to."
There has been speculation the Orioles may try to trade Tejada in the off-season.
"If this team wants to win, the last thing they should do is trade me," he said.
BELOW .500 AT HOME
With Sunday's loss to the Twins, the Orioles finished the home portion of their schedule with a record of 40-41. Attendance for the year at Camden Yards was 2,153,139, the lowest total in the 15-year history of the ball park.
With his infield hit Sunday, Chris Gomez extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games. Gomez is hitting .426 over that 16-game stretch and Perlozzo wants to ride his hot bat until the end of the year.
"I think you are surprised any time someone is hitting .420 for the month," Perlozzo said. "It doesn't surprise me that he comes in and hits because he stays on top of his game. It's a shame he was hurt for two months and we had everyday infielders and three first basemen, so it was a little tough for him to get in there. Right now he is just in one of those streaks, and we are going to try and ride him for a while."
Perlozzo said Gomez has a track record which makes him a valuable asset to any major league club.
"He's a great guy on the team, and he knows how to take care of himself," Perlozzo said. "He works hard. You could do a video tape on him, watch him all over the field, take batting practice and he never complains. He is always ready, so it is not a surprise to me that he produces when he gets in there."
After spending time in Ottawa for the past four seasons, the Orioles have announced that they reached an agreement on a player development contract with the Norfolk Tides which will begin next season.
The Tides are ending a 38-year affiliation with the New York Mets.
"Clearly, it is a major upgrade for our organization," vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette said.
"This we really feel will have an impact for us on the field. We were having trouble attracting players to come and play at our Triple-A level, because it was in Ottawa, and they would rather stay here in the United States and a big part of that will be eliminated. This is one of the crown jewels of the minor leagues. The facility is fantastic, the fan base is terrific, and it is right in our market. We are very, very excited."
Issue 1.23: September 28, 2006