Looking back, O's ahead in Trombley deal

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

July 2001 trade brought potential in Foster, Gil

March 03, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The trade that sent reliever Mike Trombley to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July continues to favor the Orioles, who could have a late-inning reliever and catcher to show for it on their 25-man roster.

Trombley, who will earn $2.6 million, was 0-4 with a 6.56 ERA in 19 games with the Dodgers. He might be released this spring because the club has a surplus of pitching, though his contract would be hard to swallow.

In return, the Orioles received Kris Foster and Geronimo Gil, two minor-leaguers with modest credentials but intriguing potential. Foster throws in the upper 90s and could make the team in a setup role - he's a long shot to be the closer - while Gil is providing heavy competition either as a starter or reserve behind the plate.

"We needed Trombley. We were playing for something, and he was over there saving games for the Orioles," said Dodgers manager Jim Tracy.

Trombley, who threw two scoreless innings yesterday, never regained his form after leaving the Orioles. He was 3-4 with a 3.46 ERA and six saves in 54 2/3 innings when the deal was struck, but he pitched so poorly with the Dodgers that he made only seven appearances after Aug. 31.

"I just never settled in," said Trombley, who will turn 35 in April. "I don't know what it was. No excuses. I just didn't throw the ball good. It was a big change. I didn't see my family for a few months, living out of a hotel. It was just rough."

Trombley's wife, Barbara, gave birth to the couple's third child in September. Alexandria Trombley was born six days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

"It was just a rough time," he said. "I'm looking forward to new things this year."

A new age?

Minor-league shortstop Ed Rogers could arrive in Fort Lauderdale by Wednesday. Club officials are more interested in the passport he's carrying, which will provide proof of his real age.

Rogers has been detained in the Dominican Republic while trying to secure a work visa, part of the tightened security measures after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was supposed to be in camp, along with infielder Eddy Garabito, on Feb. 19.

It's believed that Rogers, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1997, is three years older than his listed age of 20. Garabito's departure has been complicated by his inability to provide a birth certificate.

Unlike Garabito, who projects as a utility infielder, Rogers has no chance of making the club this spring but is an important part of its youth movement. He's ranked as the organization's fifth-best prospect by Baseball America despite batting .199 at Double-A Bowie and returning to Single-A Frederick in early June.

"I don't know how old he is. I'll only know when I see the new passport," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations. "What I'm concerned about is not having the players here. I want them here, period."

Thrift likened Rogers' age difference to signing a player from a four-year school rather than a junior college, and cited outfield prospect Keith Reed, 23, who also should begin this season at Bowie.

"It would make a difference if the guy was 25 to 28 and hadn't gotten to the major leagues," Thrift said. "This hasn't changed his running, his throwing, his fielding."

Rogers remains the organization's top shortstop prospect. Bryan Bass, a supplemental draft pick, projects as a third baseman because of his limited range.

More signings

The Orioles signed four more players to contracts for 2002: pitchers B.J. Ryan and Jorge Julio, infielder Jerry Hairston and outfielder Larry Bigbie.

Calvin Maduro is the only member of the 40-man roster still unsigned. His contract will be renewed if no agreement is reached by March 11.

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