Mike Linskey was at the Baltimore Arena yesterday, working one of his two offseason jobs, when the Orioles called. "I said, 'Oh my God, if they traded me, I'm going to be ticked off,' " he recalled, laughing.
The 24-year-old lefthander need not have worried. The Orioles merely wanted to make his addition to their 40-man roster official, not inform him of any bad news.
Yesterday's move guaranteed Linskey will be protected from the major-league draft next month, and made a nice birthday present for his father Henry, who turned 64.
The Orioles have until midnight tonight to fill their remaining two roster spots, but their only other addition is expected to be second baseman Luis Mercedes, a two-time minor-league batting champion.
By leaving one roster spot open, general manager Roland Hemond can allow himself greater trade flexibility at the winter meetings, to be held in Chicago Dec. 1-6.
The inclusion of Linskey on the Orioles' 40-man list hardly qualified as a surprise, but the Baltimore native recognized it as an important step in his quest to pitch for his hometown team.
"I'm really anxious to have [manager] Frank Robinson and [pitching coach] Al Jackson watch me throw," Linskey said. "It's always different when you hear reports, compared to when you see a pitcher throw."
Linskey was invited to train with the Orioles as a non-roster player last spring. But the owners' lockout shortened camp, preventing him from making an impression.
Hemond said he views Linskey as a starter, but the Orioles face a shortage of lefthanders in their bullpen, and it's possible the club will consider him as a reliever next spring.
"You can't get picky," said Linskey, who probably will start the year at Triple A Rochester. "I'd even catch."
Linskey, the Orioles' ninth-round draft pick in 1987, started at Double A Hagerstown last season and went 7-1 with a 1.47 ERA. He then was promoted to Rochester, where he finished 7-9 with a 3.58 ERA.
Hemond said part of his problem at Rochester was a tired arm. "He's such a hard worker, you have trouble keeping him from throwing between starts," Hemond said. "The coaches say you have to watch him all the time."
Linskey even works hard in the offseason. He has a morning job at the Downtown Athletic Club, an afternoon job with the Baltimore Thunder lacrosse team (his degree from James Madison is in sports management).
He wakes up at 4:30 a.m., works out between jobs.
In another year or so, his life might get easier.