Henderson chasing job leads, but O's won't run after him

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

All-time steals leader is unsigned at 44

Rogers refuses to drop price

Baseball

March 05, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Rickey Henderson is still looking for a job at age 44, but the Orioles aren't interested.

Henderson, who holds baseball's all-time records for stolen bases (1,403), bases on balls (2,179) and runs scored (2,288), played in 72 games for the Boston Red Sox last season, batting .223 with a .369 on-base average.

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie spoke with Henderson's agent, Jeff Borris, yesterday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, saying thanks but no thanks.

"I saw [Henderson] play last year, and he can still get on base," Beattie said. "But he doesn't fit in our plans."

The Orioles have a glut of outfielders, and they intend to enter the season with second baseman Jerry Hairston as their leadoff hitter.

Rogers talks still cool

With Scott Erickson set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Beattie spoke with Scott Boras, the agent for free-agent pitcher Kenny Rogers, but those talks didn't go anywhere, either.

"His price isn't coming down necessarily," Beattie said.

Rogers, 38, went 13-8 with a 3.84 ERA last season with the Texas Rangers, and he remains unsigned.

The Orioles had heard his price was dropping into the two-year, $4 million range, but Boras told them that wasn't the case.

Even without Erickson, the Orioles still have six established starters vying for five spots in the starting rotation. But signing another would give them more flexibility in case they make a trade.

Chuck Finley also is available, but the Orioles aren't interested.

Ponson faces Red Sox

Conspiracy theorists might think the Orioles stacked their rotation so Sidney Ponson could face the Boston Red Sox today at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The Red Sox are looking for a starting pitcher, and Ponson has just one year left before free agency.

Ponson hasn't pitched since Thursday's exhibition opener, but Orioles officials say that's by chance as they try to get all their pitchers work early in the spring.

Trade talks with the Red Sox, which once included third baseman Shea Hillenbrand, have been cool of late, and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein isn't expected to be at today's game.

Hentgen roughed up

Two starts into the spring, Pat Hentgen's ERA is 10.80.

Yesterday, Hentgen allowed five runs on seven hits in three innings, as Todd Sears and Michael Restovich each hit a two-run homer.

"[Spring training] results are important," Hentgen said, "so it's frustrating to give up two home runs."

Still, at this point of the spring, the Orioles are just happy Hentgen is healthy. After he finished pitching, he was in the clubhouse icing his ankle, not his surgically repaired elbow.

The elbow feels great, he said, but he took a Matthew LeCroy smash off the ankle in the first inning.

"I'm a little frustrated with my execution," Hentgen said, "but stuff-wise, I felt like I was pretty sharp."

Around the horn

The Orioles plan to send a private plane to Steve Bechler's memorial service in Medford, Ore., on Saturday. Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan, scouting director Tony DeMacio and minor-league pitching coordinator Dave Schmidt are planning to go, along with pitchers Rick Bauer, Mike Paradis, Matt Riley and John Stephens. ... Players union leader Don Fehr will be at Orioles camp Friday for the team's annual union meeting, and one of the topics will almost certainly be ephedrine.

Sun staff writer Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.

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