Rochester ends affiliation with O's

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Two-year agreement signed with Twins

Ottawa might be in Orioles' future

September 18, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The longest affiliation between a major-league and Triple-A team officially came to an end yesterday when the Rochester Red Wings signed a two-year working agreement with the Minnesota Twins.

So where does this leave the Orioles?

Signs are pointing toward Ottawa.

Joe Foss, the Orioles' vice chairman/chief operating officer, is scheduled to meet today with Ottawa Lynx owner Ray Pecor in New Hampshire. The Orioles apparently began negotiations with Lynx officials shortly after Rochester's season concluded.

The Orioles and Red Wings had been affiliated since 1961, but their relationship deteriorated in recent years. Rochester filed for free agency last month after five straight losing seasons. Ottawa, seeking to end its affiliation with the Montreal Expos, also has filed.

"That was totally their [the Red Wings'] decision to change," said Don Buford, director of minor-league operations. "Rochester felt we weren't giving them winning-caliber players. The approach I always take is the number of players who go from Rochester to the big leagues. That's an important factor as far as building a relationship with a franchise.

"We had a long history with Rochester - Hall of Famers, the Governors' Cup. It's a long relationship that ended over a five-year period of dislike on Rochester's part for not producing a winning club. I'm not knocking them. That was an executive decision on their part to make a change."

The Twins were the parent club of the Edmonton Trappers the past two seasons. Edmonton and Ottawa are available to the Orioles. The working agreement would be for a minimum of two years.

"Whatever club you're with, you have to consider that as ideal," Buford said. "I would certainly hope that whichever club it is, that we have a tremendous relationship. We're starting fresh and we'd be happy to develop a relationship like we started with Rochester.

"I know that we have major-league players who will be participating at the Triple-A level this season."

Edmonton won the Pacific Coast League championship.

"This was an easy decision," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said at a news conference at Frontier Field. "Rochester's history, tradition, facility and passion for the game are obvious. This is where we want to be."

Pecor bought the Lynx for $7 million in 2000. He's estimating losses of approximately $1 million this season after Ottawa ranked last in attendance in the 14-team International League.

If the Orioles wanted a Triple-A affiliate closer to home, in Bowie, the transaction would be more complicated and unlikely to occur by next season. Someone would need to buy an existing International League franchise and move it to Bowie, and the Double-A Baysox likely would need permission to leave the Eastern League.

Matthews enters game

Gary Matthews made his first appearance since Aug. 23, entering the ninth inning as a defensive replacement in right field.

Mike Hargrove isn't certain when Matthews will bat. He experienced some pain in his right wrist while hitting from the right side on Monday. He had no discomfort from the left side.

DuBose gets a chance

The date when teams could begin adding players to the roster had passed, so reliever Eric DuBose assumed he wouldn't pitch for the Orioles this season. No wonder Thursday's phone call from Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations, took him by surprise.

Instead of joining the Orioles on Sept. 1, he stepped inside their clubhouse on Monday. A No. 59 jersey hung in one of the temporary lockers that occupy space in the middle of the room this time of year.

Seventeen months after surgery on his left shoulder, DuBose had received his first promotion to the majors.

"It kind of caught me off-guard," he said.

No wonder. DuBose, 26, didn't pitch in 2001 after April surgery to repair his left labrum and rotator cuff. He spent the entire season rehabbing, and still hadn't fully recovered when the Orioles invited him to spring training this year.

Released by the Detroit Tigers on March 31, 2001, DuBose couldn't have anticipated that the next season would end with him sitting in the home bullpen at Camden Yards.

The news of his promotion was delivered by Thrift, who called DuBose while the pitcher slept at his Houston home. DuBose, a former first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics, was preparing to report to the Arizona Fall League after going 5-3 with a 2.51 ERA and three saves at Bowie.

"I had a pretty solid season," he said, "but the only thing I felt was going against me was I wasn't on the 40-man roster. They had to make some moves to bring me up."

It wasn't that complicated. The Orioles put left-hander Yorkis Perez on the 60-day disabled list after his appendectomy on Thursday.

"I've always tried to look at the positives," said DuBose, who arrived in Baltimore on Friday and threw in the bullpen the next day. "It's one of your goals to get up here, so you always like to think there's a chance."

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