ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The search for a run-producing outfielder apparently has led the Baltimore Orioles back to the Boston Red Sox, but not to Mike Greenwell.
General manager Roland Hemond spoke with Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman six times over the past week, which led to speculation that the Orioles might be stepping up their effort to acquire Greenwell, but a club source said yesterday that the recent talks have focused on 25-year-old first baseman/outfielder Carlos Quintana.
Quintana, who batted .287 with seven home runs and 67 RBI, played almost exclusively at first base last year, but he came up through the Red Sox organization as an outfielder. If the Orioles succeed in acquiring him, they would start him in left field.
The Red Sox are looking for pitching help, and the same source said that their interest has centered on right-hander Pete Harnisch, whose name also came up in the Greenwell rumors in October.
"If we were ready to trade Harnisch one-for-one," the source said, "we would have made the deal already. But there's no rush. There's no sense taking our best shot now."
The Orioles are satisfied that Quintana would be a capable outfielder. The only concern was the low home run total, but the club seems confident that he will develop into a 20-home run threat.
The 67 RBI have to be the main attraction. Quintana had 512 at-bats last year, but most of them were in the second spot in the lineup, where a 67-RBI season is not to be taken lightly. He struck out only 74 times, which means that he puts the bat on the ball consistently.
The Orioles came into the off-season with several players who were higher on their wish list, but their early returns at the winter meetings have made it appear that a Quintana deal might be their best bet. There also were discussions about Red Sox outfield prospect Phil Plantier, but it seems doubtful that Hemond would give up a frontline starter for an unproven player, no matter how promising.
Hemond had a busy day yesterday. He was present when Major League Baseball's negotiating team briefed front-office officials on the pending resolution of the contract dispute with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. He also talked trade with four clubs -- the California Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals.
"It looks like things will heat up tomorrow," Hemond said. "We have some appointments set up and there will be a lot more open time."
Hemond said that two of the trade meetings would probably lead to future discussions, but he always is reluctant to get into specifics.
There have been rumors involving the Orioles and Angels since late last season, most of them centering on outfielder Dante Bichette. But an Orioles official said that the Angels informed Hemond yesterday that Bichette was headed elsewhere.
The conversations with the Dodgers apparently focused on outfielder Kal Daniels, who is coming off a career offensive year. There is room for doubt whether the Dodgers would seriously consider trading him, but his resale value will never be higher.
The Royals appear to have an outfielder surplus -- and there always seem to be rumors surrounding Danny Tartabull -- but Kansas City general manager Herk Robinson told reporters yesterday that there did not appear to be much common ground between the Royals and Orioles.
The meeting with the White Sox seems to make the least sense of all, unless the White Sox are shopping outfielder Ivan Calderon. Left-handed relievers Ken Patterson and Scott Radinsky have to appeal to the Orioles, but they do not appear to match up with Chicago tradewise.
Hemond's time figures to be heavily booked again today. He has appointments scheduled with a number of teams and is set to meet with agents Jim Turner (who represents Franklin Stubbs) and Ron Shapiro (Matt Young).