Entering Friday, Payton had seven RBIs in his previous two contests and 15 RBIs in his last eight starts. Even with an 0-for-4 game against Washington, he is batting .306 (15-for-49) with two home runs and 15 RBIs in June.
Getting hot right now simply helps Payton's chances of going to a contender by September. While Payton and his estimated $5 million contract would likely clear waivers for a potential August trade, the Orioles would love to deal him in July. Payton would have value to a playoff contender seeking a veteran presence, a right-handed bat or a defensive replacement.
Payton is an intense player, and while he's done an admirable job of fitting in with the Orioles clubhouse, there are times where he seems like an outcast. He's the only regular who doesn't flip his cap up to emulate closer George Sherrill at the end of a contest.
But Payton has showed up every day, hasn't complained, and has done what the club has asked. And it may benefit him in the end, with the chance to play in the playoffs for just the third time in his 11-year career.
Second baseman Felipe Lopez didn't express any surprise about a report that said the Washington Nationals were in serious discussions with the Baltimore Orioles about a trade. That didn't mean, however, that Lopez didn't have a few things to say about the possibility.
Benched for the last three games in favor of utility infielder Willie Harris less than a week after hitting .379 on a nine-game road trip, Lopez aired frustration about how manager Manny Acta has treated him lately, citing a lack of communication in the clubhouse.
"Of course I'm a little bothered. Coming off a great road trip, I went up like 30 points, playing great, and then to come here and all of a sudden just not play, it's kind of like, 'What the hell's going on?'" Lopez said. "If you want to send a message, that's where the lack of communication comes from. That's what I'm talking about. If something's bothering you, then say it. This is like a kid, treating me like a kid, or like punishment or something for I don't know what."
Asked about his communication with Lopez, Acta said: "I think I talked to him enough from last year about everything that we expect out of him."
Lopez said he hadn't read the report suggesting he was close to being traded, but added he'd heard the Orioles had been interested in him since spring training.
"Just believe me, it's funny that people are interested. It explains a lot about what's been going on the past three days or whatever," he said. "There's no communication. I find out things over the media. Whatever."