O's prefer to keep Erickson in fold

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Thrift expects starter to have big second half, is reluctant to trade him

Notebook

July 05, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Orioles vice president for baseball operations Syd Thrift said yesterday that he thinks starting pitcher Scott Erickson is poised for a big second half, making the club even more reluctant to trade Erickson before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The St. Louis Cardinals were among the teams that had a scout watching Erickson on Wednesday night, when he pitched a complete-game four-hitter and lost, 1-0, to the Anaheim Angels.

The Cardinals were looking for starting pitching even before the death of Darryl Kile. There's been talk the Cardinals would take Erickson only if the Orioles were willing to pay some of his salary. Erickson, 34, is making $5 million this season and will make an additional $6.6 million next year.

As a 10-and-5 player - 10 years in the big leagues, five with the same team - Erickson also has the right to veto any trade.

Erickson is winless since April 28, and has gone 0-6 with a 4.88 ERA in his past 12 starts. But the Orioles have averaged just 3.2 runs in those games, and Wednesday was another example of his bad luck during this stretch.

"That's our fault, not his," Thrift said of Erickson's streak. "We're not getting him any runs."

Erickson has gone 3-8 with a 4.41 ERA in his first season back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, but the Orioles sound unwilling to make many concessions if other teams want to trade for him. Not only are they determined not to pick up any of his salary, but they also expect multiple players in return.

"He's pitched well for us," Thrift said. "He's going to pitch better in the second half, and better next year. We're not going to weaken our strength in an attempt to strengthen our weakness. There's an old saying, `If they want to see the show, they're going to have to pay.' "

Cordova's foot injured

Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said outfielder Marty Cordova has a ligament injury in the bottom of his right foot, which has limited him to designated hitter duties in recent days.

On Wednesday, Cordova had a chance to score the go-ahead run on a potential sacrifice fly by Mike Bordick, but Jose Leon was thrown out trying to reach third base before Cordova crossed home plate.

Cordova hasn't played in the field since June 25. He went 3-for-4 last night, ending a slump that had seen him get two hits in 24 at-bats.

"He had [the foot] injected Sunday," Hargrove said. "Tuesday it felt better. It was bothering him before the game [Wednesday] night. That's why he's been the DH."

Conine doubtful

Hargrove said the Orioles would be willing to activate Jeff Conine from the disabled list if he's ready tomorrow, but chances are it won't happen until after the All-Star break.

"I think it's probably a pretty safe bet he won't be activated until after the break," Hargrove said. "Everything changes, but I don't anticipate [it changing]."

Matthews to represent

Gary Matthews will represent the Orioles on Monday at the players association meeting in Chicago, where the union is expected to set a potential strike date. Orioles player representative Jason Johnson has another commitment during the All-Star break, as does Chris Singleton, who was the player rep for the Chicago White Sox before coming to the Orioles.

Johnson and Singleton will brief Matthews this weekend, but his responsibilities won't be that complex.

"He just has to represent the team," Singleton said. "If they set a [strike] date, he'll tell them the earliest possible date our team will support."

No flight change

The Orioles were scheduled to fly to Texas last night through Los Angeles International Airport, site of the shootings that left three people dead near Israel's El Al Airlines ticket counter. The Orioles did not change their plans.

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