Orioles third baseman hit .402 with eight homers in May
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
Melvin Mora has missed the past five games with a sprained ligament near the left ankle. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- Melvin Mora has been all business this season, littering the field with hits to emerge as the American League leader in batting average through two months.
That does not stop him, however, from having a sense of humor. After finding out he had won American League Player of the Month for May, Mora told teammate Tim Raines Jr., just hours after he joined the club from Triple-A Ottawa, that he had won the lottery.
So while Mora was conducting interviews with the media, Raines was asking teammates how much Mora had won.
Perhaps there is no monetary value attached to the AL Player of the Month award, but Mora has gained a great deal of respect with a sparkling season so far. In May, Mora led the AL in batting average (.402), slugging percentage (.701) and on-base percentage (.480). He went 43-for-107 with 26 runs, eight homers, 23 RBIs and eight doubles.
Mora entered Tuesday's play with an AL-leading .385 average.
"They congratulate me and I don't know what happened," Mora said when asked about the award. "It feels good to win, but I think about winning games ... that's important to me. I don't think about being player of the month. When you win games you enjoy everything more."
Melvin Mora / 3B
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Mora has stabilized the Orioles' offense and flourished hitting ahead of 2002 AL MVP Miguel Tejada, hitting .424 against right-handed pitchers and .367 with runners in scoring position.
"It seems like every time he's up, he's getting a hit," first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said. "Even when he has a bad game, he has two hits. It's incredible."
Mora's rise has coincided with his increased playing time. After missing most of the second half of last season with hand and knee injuries, Mora was named the team's starting third baseman in the offseason by manager Lee Mazzilli.
The transition to third has been arduous at times, but Mora has become more consistent at the position and emerged as an offensive catalyst. He leads the Orioles in home runs and is second in RBIs.
Mora has not made Mazzilli regret his bold and confident move. When Mora hit just .188 after the break last season, many speculated that he would be traded or have his role reduced.
Mazzilli hardly was surprised when told about Mora's honor.
"How can you not give it to him?" Mazzilli said. "It seems like every day he's got two hits. He's played really well at third base. I am happy for him, I'm really proud of what he's done."
Mora said playing one position has helped his offensive consistency.
"It's helped a little bit because I am a little more relaxed," he said. "I don't care about what happens at third base, I know I have to hit. People are going to struggle because we're human. The only thing we can do it is work hard."
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.