Late Orioles games: Last night's game between the Orioles and Oakland Athletics at Camden Yards was delayed by rain at the start and ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at http://www.sunspot.net.
Three years ago, first baseman Calvin Pickering was honored as the Double-A Eastern League's Player of the Year. Two days ago, he was selected to the Triple-A International League's postseason All-Star team.
Yesterday, long since removed from the Orioles' 40-man roster, Pickering was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named.
Don Buford, director of minor-league operations, said the club might be interested in signing Pickering over the winter when he becomes a six-year free agent, though a reunion seems unlikely.
Pickering, 25, will report today to the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, which has clinched a playoff berth. He received a 27-inch color television and a plaque from Rochester last night for being named the team's MVP. The level of compensation that the Orioles receive from the deal depends on whether Cincinnati can re-sign him. The Reds already have Sean Casey entrenched at first base.
As for the chances of Pickering coming back to the Orioles, Buford said, "You never rule out those possibilities."
"Right at this point, I don't think he's determined which direction he wants to go," Buford added. "This gives him a chance to play with a club that's in the playoffs and get more exposure."
Pickering didn't sound like a player last night who wanted to reconnect his ties to the organization. "Leading the league in RBIs  and batting .282, and I'm still down here. At least other teams were noticing," he said.
His strikeout total -- 149 in 131 games -- was hard to ignore, as well. "I just want to play in the major leagues," said Pickering, who also hit 21 homers. "I did my job here and had fun."
Rochester manager Andy Etchebarren said Pickering remained bitter about being taken off the 40-man roster last year. "I've talked to him and talked to him about it. He's still having a hard time with that."
The Reds expressed interest in Pickering earlier this season and approached the Orioles again in recent days. They obtained a player whose stock fell dramatically after the 1998 season, when he batted .309 with 31 homers and 114 RBIs at Bowie and was anointed "the next Mo Vaughn" by vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift.
The organization's top power-hitting prospect, Pickering made his major-league debut Sept. 12 of that season and collected his first hit a week later by homering off David Cone. He also homered off another Cy Young winner, Pedro Martinez.
Also promoted in 1999, Pickering batted .164 (10-for-61) with three homers and eight RBIs in 32 games with the Orioles in parts of two seasons. He went into decline after the Orioles assigned him to Rochester in the spring of 1999 and handed over first base to free agent Will Clark.
He struggled with injuries, including a torn quadriceps muscle that required surgery last August and limited him to 60 games at Rochester, and with his weight, which often exceeded 300 pounds. Buford said the latest reports have Pickering around 285 pounds.
"That's one reason he started to play well," Buford said.
While at Bowie, Pickering joined third baseman Ryan Minor as the Orioles' top position prospects. Neither player remains in the organization. Minor was traded to Montreal Expos in December for pitcher Jorge Julio.
Rochester on the rocks
Rochester has two games remaining before completing its fourth consecutive losing season, which hasn't happened since the 1940s. Naomi Silver, the Red Wings' chief operating officer, again voiced her frustration with the Orioles' failure to provide a competitive team during an interview that appeared in yesterday's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
"We had hoped after some of our conversations with the Orioles last year, which were very serious, that things would improve to some extent. Instead, quite the opposite has happened," she said. "The people that are in the decision-making roles with the Orioles have to be held accountable. What has changed in their philosophy? I don't know. I think they've overestimated the talent in the organization and thought that the guys they were bringing to Rochester would perform better than they have."
The Red Wings have held the worst Triple-A record for most of the season, which Silver blamed on the Orioles' inability to add veteran talent to the roster.
"I don't know what happened. You'd think that going out and getting a couple of free agents would be easy for any organization to do. There are certainly guys out there. We've seen other ballclubs pick those guys up. Why won't the Orioles do it? I can't figure it out," she said.