Facing roster deadline, Orioles expecting no midnight madness

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

5th outfielder, utility man among few decisions left

March 30, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA - The Orioles must submit their Opening Day roster to Major League Baseball by midnight tonight, and manager Mike Hargrove said the players won't know the final decisions until late this afternoon.

The 25-man roster is mostly set, but a few battles still remain. Ryan McGuire and Luis Garcia are fighting for the fifth outfield spot, while Mike Moriarty and Brian Roberts are battling for the utility infield spot.

The Orioles made some expected moves yesterday, placing reliever Rodrigo Lopez on the 40-man roster and placing Albert Belle on the 60-day disabled list. Belle did not play last season because he has osteoarthritis in his right hip, but he is under contract through 2003.

The club also placed outfielder Luis Matos (broken left hamate bone) and pitcher Luis Rivera (right shoulder inflammation) on the 15-day disabled list.

Syd Thrift, Orioles vice president for baseball operations, continued to downplay the possibilities of the club adding a player off the waiver wire or through a trade.

"We watch the waiver wire closely every day, and we compare the players available to the players already here," Thrift said. "We turned down a trade from another team, for example, because it wasn't a better overall player than what we have here."

To avoid any tampering charges, Thrift declined to specify the player and team.

Hargrove also said he didn't see any areas of the roster that needed quick tinkering through a trade.

"The roster we'll have will be a fairly flexible roster," Hargrove said. "You'd always like to add a big bat or add a burner in your lineup somehow, but as far as flexibility and versatility's concerned, I think we've tried to pick this roster to where it gives us as much wiggle room during the season and during the ballgame as we can have."

Ripken, the fan

After spending 20 seasons in the Orioles' Opening Day starting lineup, Cal Ripken plans to attend Monday's season opener as a fan.

Ripken, who still has a suite and season tickets at Camden Yards, will attend the game with his wife, Kelly, and their two children, Rachel, 12, and Ryan, 8.

"He'll be there as a husband and a dad, and he's going to watch it from that vantage point for the first time," said Ripken's spokesman, John Maroon. "I'm sure it'll be a little strange for him. After 20 years of watching it from the field, he'll be watching it from the stands."

Cordova sits with tight quad

Left fielder Marty Cordova had tightness in his right quadriceps muscle and did not play last night. But Hargrove said he didn't expect the injury to prevent Cordova from playing on Opening Day.

Chris Singleton played in his second straight game after missing two weeks with a strained Achilles' tendon. He legged out a double in the first inning and later chased down a ball in the right-center gap.

Competition is catching

Brook Fordyce took a .375 batting average into last night's game against the Atlanta Braves, but he said it doesn't bother him that Hargrove still hasn't named a starting catcher.

The competition has boiled down to Fordyce and Geronimo Gil, who is batting .333. The Orioles will likely keep Fernando Lunar, who caught the whole game last night, on the Opening Day roster as well.

"I think it's been good for the team," Fordyce said. "Everyone's hungry, and we've won a lot of games. I feel good about where I'm at, but I can't control that decision."

Palmer riding the rails

Orioles television analyst and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer rode the train from Florida to Baltimore so he can be in place for Opening Day.

Palmer had surgery to repair a detached retina this month, and doctors have advised him not to fly until his eye is fully healed.

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