Notes: Millar noticed for bat, dance
Orioles veteran pays tribute to Ravens star Lewis
BALTIMORE -- In Kevin Millar's world, everything is measured by its potential impact in headlines and highlight reels. The veteran achieved a rare double in that category Monday, when he was featured on several sports shows for a pregame dance routine and a home run in his first at-bat. This time, though, Millar pleaded innocence.
He said he thought it would be funny to duplicate the introductory dance of Baltimore Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis, but he also said he never expected the kind of reaction it got. Millar said he had 40 text messages from friends and family, and the party line was split evenly between "some good, some bad and some laughing."
Millar said he meant the dance as an homage to a player he respects and didn't mean any offense. He didn't mean for it to wind up on YouTube and similar Web sites within hours of the event.
"Ray's on my side, hopefully. That's what I was telling them on the radio," Millar said in the hours before Tuesday's game. "'Let's get it on the record that I'm a Ray Lewis fan. This is about Ray Lewis and his fans in Baltimore.' I didn't score a touchdown against the Ravens [and] I wasn't mocking him by any means."
The second highlight was much less problematic. Millar had homered the previous day and was serving notice that he needs to be in the lineup as much as possible. For Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo, it was a welcome blow.
"He had some bad luck early on, I thought," Perlozzo said. "Especially in the last two weeks of Spring Training, I thought he hit a lot of balls right on the button [and] hit it right at them. A couple of those are falling in. He was missing his pitch for a while -- for about 10 days or two weeks. He'd get it, and either foul it or miss it. His timing's a little better now."
Perlozzo took the message and started Millar at first base Tuesday for the first time this season. He had Aubrey Huff at designated hitter, where Millar has started the majority of his games. The two likely will rotate all year.
"They're interchangeable guys," Perlozzo said. "We're going to keep them sharp at first base, instead of making it one guy. They both can play the position. We'll just mix and match for a little while."
Bumps and bruises: Perlozzo updated the media on two injured Orioles who are expected back in the next week or two. Left fielder Jay Payton is nursing a strained left hamstring and is eligible to return Wednesday, and catcher Ramon Hernandez has a strained left oblique and can't be activated until Sunday.
"I understand that he's a day or two away from starting a running program," Perlozzo said of Payton. "He's been doing some light jogging, some backpedaling, some things like that. He's probably going to be another week, I would think.
"Ramon had a little progress yesterday," he said of Hernandez. "He's got minimal discomfort in the oblique. He's on a throwing program and a conditioning program. He's a little bit better today."
Both players are at the team's Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla., and they will participate in extended spring games as soon as they're ready to compete. Soon after they take that step, they'll be back in Baltimore.
"They're in Sarasota. We can go ahead and shoot them right in," Perlozzo said of the extended spring games. "They can get as many at-bats as they want. We can lead them off every inning if we have to."
Still gone: Bench coach Tom Trebelhorn still is attending to his wife, who had an aneurysm during Spring Training, and he is uncertain when he'll be able to return. Perlozzo has repeatedly told Trebelhorn to take care of his family and not to worry about returning before he's ready.
"I basically told him to make sure he takes care of business and not to worry so much about being here," Perlozzo said. "I know he probably feels bad when he's not here, and when he's here he feels bad he's not there. I tried to ease him a little bit and said, 'Look, spend a little time and don't worry about it. Get things back on track and we'll welcome you back.'"
Behind the mask: Perlozzo said he's all but decided on a time-sharing arrangement behind the plate until Hernandez returns. For now, the Orioles will start Paul Bako against righties and Alberto Castillo against lefties.
"We could've caught Castillo last night, because he caught Daniel the first time," the Orioles manager said. "But, you know, Ramon's going to come back and catch almost all of them. We've got a left-handed [opposing] pitcher -- we'll let Alberto catch. [If it's] a righty, we'll let Bako catch and just bounce them around for a little while."
Coming up: The Orioles and Tigers will play a Wednesday series finale that pits Adam Loewen against Detroit's Justin Verlander. Loewen was strong in his season debut, which turned into a win over the Yankees.
Quotable: "I haven't met him, but I'd like to meet him -- hopefully on good terms. Don't hurt me Ray, please." -- Millar, on Lewis' potential reaction to his dance
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.