Ponson's promise makes White Sox interested party


O's will evaluate players, source says, when Chicago hits town tonight for series


July 19, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - Add the Chicago White Sox to the list of teams that have expressed interest in acquiring Orioles starting pitcher Sidney Ponson.

With the White Sox opening a three-game series at Camden Yards tonight, industry sources say the Orioles will be taking a close look at Chicago's players in case a deal can be struck before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Orioles vice president Syd Thrift has said he would have to be "overwhelmed" to trade one of his starting pitchers, but teams continue to inquire about Ponson, Jason Johnson and Scott Erickson.

When the White Sox fell 10 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central last week, it triggered the official beginning of their rebuilding phase. Like the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, the White Sox remain intrigued with Ponson's potential.

The White Sox are reportedly shopping left fielder Carlos Lee, shortstop Royce Clayton, second baseman Ray Durham, center fielder Kenny Lofton, catcher Sandy Alomar and pitchers Todd Ritchie and Keith Foulke.

With the Orioles seeking a power hitter, their interest would likely center on first baseman Paul Konerko and designated hitter Frank Thomas.

Konerko entered last night ranked among the AL leaders in batting average (.324), home runs (22) and RBIs (75). Thomas, who has had well-publicized disputes inside the White Sox clubhouse, entered last night batting .245 with 14 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Thrift declined to comment on specific players, but he did make a telling comment this week about any player in general that he would add to this club.

"It has to be somebody who fits here," Thrift said. "We feel good about the parts we assembled, and there's no way you can overestimate the importance of chemistry."

Perlozzo takes over

Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo filled in for manager Mike Hargrove last night, as Hargrove attended the memorial service for longtime Cleveland Indians trainer Jim Warfield, who died Tuesday of a brain hemorrhage.

Hargrove will return to Baltimore for tonight's game. He made last night's lineup before leaving Wednesday night. Perlozzo said he would rely heavily on pitching coach Mark Wiley for any pitching changes.

With the Orioles coming off their most lethargic game of the season, in Wednesday's 7-1 loss, Perlozzo said he hoped it was an aberration.

"We really lost focus in all areas," Perlozzo said. "For whatever reason that was, I don't know. It was very frustrating for us on the bench to watch. I'm hoping we can roll that out as a one-day thing. After tough losses and bad games, they always seem to come back and play a good game the next day."

Steak dinner

When Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby hit his inside-the-park home run Wednesday night, he not only put his team ahead 2-0, he also earned a steak dinner.

Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado challenged Huckaby, saying he would buy him the steak dinner if he hit a home run during batting practice. If it happened during the game, Delgado promised a steak dinner and the bottle of wine of Huckaby's choice.

So imagine Delgado's surprise when he saw Orioles right fielder Gary Matthews sitting on the ground, unaware that Huckaby's looping liner was ruled fair, allowing Huckaby to round the bases uncontested.

"I came in after the home run," Huckaby said, "and [Delgado] said, `You can't take that.' Then he said I can have one dinner, but not two."

Around the horn

After being designated for assignment Monday, Ryan McGuire cleared waivers and returned to Triple-A Rochester. ... While the Orioles have yet to agree to terms with their top three draft choices, their sixth-round pick is off to a sterling start at rookie-level Aberdeen. John Maine, a right-handed pitcher from North Carolina-Charlotte, struck out nine of the first 10 batters he faced. The other batter walked.

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