FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Orioles have been in contact with longtime Boston Red Sox scouting director Wayne Britton and may try to lure him into their front office as a special assistant to vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift.
A club source confirmed the interest in Britton, who was fired as part of the recent Red Sox front-office shuffle. If hired, he would fill the special assignment slot that has been vacant since Bob Schaefer left to become bench coach of the Kansas City Royals.
Britton has drawn inquiries from several major-league organizations, so the Orioles would have to wait to see whether he wants to come to Baltimore to join a group of Thrift lieutenants that already includes Ed Kenney, Danny Garcia, Larry Himes and Mel Didier.
The potential addition of Britton would give the Orioles two highly respected baseball operations officials with an intimate knowledge of one of their top American League East rivals. Kenney also came to the Orioles from the Red Sox after serving in a special assistant role under Dan Duquette in Boston.
Thrift would not speculate on the probability of hiring Britton - which would require the approval of Orioles owner Peter Angelos - but he made no secret of the respect he has for the job that Britton did during his long tenure with the Red Sox.
"This is a guy who is a great judge of talent," Thrift said. "I think he's been over there about 18 years and he's developed some great players. I think you're always interested in quality people like that."
Cold and flu season
Orioles rookie Sean Douglass was scheduled to start yesterday's exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins, but was scratched because he wasn't feeling well.
Several players in the Orioles' clubhouse have struggled with cold and flu symptoms during the early weeks of spring training. Pitching prospect Erik Bedard also had to be scratched from an appearance over the weekend.
Rookie John Stephens started in Douglass' place yesterday and probably wished he hadn't. The Twins greeted him with four runs in the first inning on the way to a 4-2 victory at Hammond Stadium.
Stephens, known for his great control in the minor leagues, walked two batters and gave up three extra-base hits in the first inning, then settled down to pitch a hitless second. He could have been forgiven for being nervous in his first exhibition start, but he didn't make any excuses.
"I don't think it was nerves," he said. "It was just a lack of control. The ball moved a little too much. I talked to [pitching coach] Mark Wiley, and he thought maybe my arm angle was a little too high."
Fordyce goes deep
Catcher Brook Fordyce, whose offensive struggles last year supposedly put his place in the 2002 starting lineup up for grabs, continues to swing the bat well in the early stages of the exhibition season.
Fordyce drove in both Orioles runs yesterday with a home run off reliever Jack Cressend in the fifth inning yesterday. He has four hits - including the homer and a double - in his first 12 at-bats (.333) and has struck out just once.
He batted just .209 last year with five homers and 19 RBIs in 292 at-bats.
The Orioles expected shortstop prospect Ed Rogers to arrive in camp early this week, but there was no sign of him in camp yesterday. Rogers has been stuck in the Dominican Republic while U.S. officials scrutinize his immigration documents.
"They said the next couple of days," manager Mike Hargrove said, "but I've been hearing that for 10 days now."
Rogers, who is considered the club's shortstop of the future, definitely has been missed. Injuries to infielders Brian Roberts and Howie Clark combined by the visa-related absences of Rogers and Eddie Garabito have created a depth problem at the two middle infield positions.
Minor-leaguers Emmanuel Del Rosario and Nick Garcia were called up over the weekend to fill the void, but that only solved the short-term numbers problem. The club still has to deal with the revelation that Rogers is three years older than previously believed and evaluate him in a narrowing time frame.