Free-agent pitcher Kirk McCaskill will not visit Baltimore after all.
McCaskill was scheduled to arrive in town yesterday and meet with Baltimore Orioles officials today, but he decided to cancel the visit because negotiations were not far enough along to warrant it.
Instead, he will make only the Boston half of what was originally planned as a two-city trip, meeting with Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman tomorrow.
"I had plane reservations [to Baltimore]," McCaskill said by phone last night, "but I didn't want to go to Baltimore and waste my time. I didn't want it to be a wild-goose chase."
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond indicated last night that negotiations between club officials and McCaskill's agent, Marvin Demoff, would continue by phone. But interest in McCaskill may have diminished when the Orioles acquired right-hander Storm Davis from the Kansas City Royals at last week's winter meetings.
"That's the feeling I got from Marvin," McCaskill said. "I think they are still interested in me. I know that I'm still interested in them. There has been no breakdown. But I had been under the impression that they were going to go after me hard."
The Orioles remain in the market for pitching help, but their interest appears more centered now on veteran Rick Sutcliffe, who has made it clear that he does not expect a multi-year contract. McCaskill already has a multi-year offer to remain with the California Angels.
Hemond would not comment on the Orioles level of interest, except to say that the club had talked to Demoff last week at the winter meetings in Miami and would talk again.
The club also has expressed interest in left-hander Joe Hesketh and right-hander Bob Walk, but Sutcliffe has emerged as the most likely candidate to help anchor the youthful Orioles starting rotation.
There is concern about his physical condition, but the club would not have to risk $7 million to $8 million dollars to find out if his arm is still sound. He'll likely settle for a low base salary and a long ladder of incentive bonuses that could get him up to the $2.176 million he made last year.
McCaskill, who also has a history of arm problems, would cost considerably more, which might explain why the Orioles are slow to get into the bidding.