KANSAS CITY, MO — KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Reports continue to filter from the West Coast that Fred McGriff will be traded to the highest bidder before the month is over. And if the Orioles are willing to part with left-hander Arthur Rhodes, they probably could put together an acceptable package for the San Diego Padres first baseman.
"Atlanta and Baltimore are the two teams the Padres feel have the best fit [for a possible trade]," said one source familiar with the discussions. "They are especially looking for pitching, catching and they want a major-leaguer who can play now and one or two prospects."
Frank Robinson, Orioles assistant general manager who was here with the club, denied that Rhodes and outfielder Damon Buford had been offered for McGriff. Robinson said the teams have talked, but that nothing definitive has been proposed.
"They have told us they wouldn't do anything without getting back to us," said Robinson, who wasn't optimistic a deal would materialize.
McGriff can veto a trade to 10 teams, but the Orioles are not on that list. His contract calls for $3.25 million next year, after which he can become a free agent.
When the Padres first inquired about the Orioles' interest in McGriff, they asked for right-hander Mike Mussina and were quickly rebuffed. The next two names mentioned were Jeffrey Hammonds and Brad Pennington.
After being convinced that those three were untouchable, the Padres inquired about other alternatives, including catcher Chris Hoiles.
According to a West Coast source, that's when the names of Rhodes, Buford, Rochester left-hander John O'Donoghue, Rochester outfielder Mark Smith and Bowie catcher Gregg Zaun, the nephew of Rick Dempsey, entered the discussion.
One popular package making the rounds has O'Donoghue, Buford and first baseman David Segui, hitting .320, going for McGriff.
The hangup there is that the Padres have a first baseman at Triple-A, Guillermo Velasquez, they want to move into McGriff's spot. "But they are committed to getting rid of McGriff's salary," said the source, "and it could be if that's the best offer they get, they'll take it. If the Orioles are willing to give up Rhodes, I think they could get it done and they might be able to do it with O'Donoghue."
All along, the Padres' preference has been to pry two Triple-A phenoms -- shortstop Chipper Jones and catcher Javy Lopez -- from Atlanta. But the Braves reportedly won't part with either and claim to have broken off talks about McGriff.
The Yankees reportedly are the latest team to enter the McGriff sweepstakes, apparently offering Kevin Maas and young pitching. But Maas is also a first baseman, and McGriff largely would be restricted to a role as designated hitter with Don Mattingly hitting close to .300.
The deadline for making trades without first acquiring waivers is July 31, so talks with the Padres are expected to intensify during the All-Star break next week.
Palermo forms foundation
Steve Palermo, the American League umpire who was shot while preventing a mugging two years ago yesterday, has announced the formation of a foundation for spinal cord injuries.
During a news conference here yesterday, Palermo revealed plans to raise funds that will be directed to research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. "Our aim is to go from care of injuries to cure," said Palermo. "The mission is to discover a cure for paralysis and to provide hope and support to those suffering from spinal cord injuries."
The foundation's financial base comes from $125,000 raised last year in Arlington, Texas, where Palermo was assigned when he was shot. "That money was raised for us [he and his wife Debbie]," said Palermo, "but we didn't feel right with that and thought it could be put to better use this way."
Tyler, McGehee saluted
Brad Tyler, second baseman with Double-A Bowie, and Kevin McGehee, right-handed pitcher with Triple-A Rochester, are the Orioles' minor league player and pitcher of the month for June.
Tyler batted .330 in 30 games, with three home runs and 10 stolen bases. McGehee, who was obtained from San Francisco for Luis Mercedes, was 3-2 with a 1.37 ERA.
McGehee beat out Garrett Stephenson, a right-hander who was 4-1, including a no-hitter, with a 1.93 ERA for Single-A Albany.
Hammonds went 0-for-5, only the second of 13 games in which he hasn't hit safely. . . . After breaking an 0-for-29 stretch with a single, Leo Gomez went hitless in his last two at-bats with a walk (he's 1-for-32). . . Mark McLemore has taken over club leadership in RBI with 42. . . . Harold Reynolds extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a ninth-inning single. . . . Chris Hoiles' two home runs increased his RBI total to 40 -- matching his total of last year.