O's zero in on third baseman Zeile Phils seeking Hammonds

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Erickson is iffy today

August 29, 1996|By Buster Olney and Jason LaCanfora | Buster Olney and Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Having struck out in their pursuit of Pittsburgh left-hander Denny Neagle, the Orioles are focusing on other possible acquisitions -- including Philadelphia third baseman Todd Zeile.

The Phillies have had a longstanding desire to trade for Orioles outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds and Zeile would fill the Orioles' need for improved right-handed punch in their lineup. Zeile, who turns 31 on Sept. 9, is hitting .265 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs. He is a subpar defensive player but is a proven run producer.

If they acquire Zeile, the Orioles probably would move B. J. Surhoff to left field. Zeile earns $2.5 million this year, which means the Orioles would have to assume about $500,000 of his contract.

Orioles officials, who were traveling to Seattle, could not be reached for comment. But a National League source said the Orioles are engaged in talks with the Phillies.

The Orioles still are talking to Milwaukee about third baseman Kevin Seitzer, but don't want to trade Hammonds or pitcher Jimmy Haynes for Seitzer in a one-for-one deal; they may ask Milwaukee to add someone to the trade, because Seitzer, 34, is effectively a one-month rental. They may feel differently about a one-for-one deal for Zeile, a younger player.

The Orioles have expressed interest in Pirates third baseman Jeff King, but a deal is highly unlikely; the Orioles are one of 10 teams listed in a no-trade clause in King's contract.

The Orioles could have interest in right-hander Mike Morgan, released by St. Louis yesterday, as a spot starter and long reliever.

Any deal would have to be made by midnight Saturday for the player to be eligible for the postseason roster.

Erickson questionable

The Orioles are seriously considering scratching Scott Erickson from his scheduled start tonight in Seattle.

Erickson sustained a slightly pulled groin muscle in his last start Sunday and the Orioles are worried he might aggravate the injury by pitching again so soon. They will wait until later today to make a decision, but in case an emergency starter is needed, the Orioles recalled Jimmy Haynes from Triple-A Rochester and sent down Nerio Rodriguez.

Erickson threw lightly yesterday and said he felt pretty good. Erickson told manager Davey Johnson he'd like to try to pitch, but Johnson wants to be careful.

"He's promoting to pitch," Johnson said. "But our training staff said it might be risky. He might further strain his groin. We'll see how he feels [today] and see how I feel about it."

The injury is in the back of Erickson's groin, an area instrumental in his push off the mound. Pitching coach Pat Dobson said his injury is similar to what New York Yankees closer John Wetteland is experiencing. Wetteland has been on the disabled list longer than originally expected and it is unknown when he will return.

Corbin's second helping

Reliever Archie Corbin has been much better the second time around with the Orioles.

"The first time up, I was more nervous than anything," said Corbin, who has allowed only three hits in six appearances, including a scoreless 1 2/3 innings yesterday, since coming up from Rochester Aug. 6. "But I have no problem with that now. Now I'm throwing more strikes. Now I know I can pitch up here. I'm up to it."

In running for tickets

The Orioles announced yesterday that they have received permission from Major League Baseball to make postseason ticket plans. The Orioles mailed invoices to season-ticket holders yesterday and plans regarding the sale of tickets to the general public will be announced soon.

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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