SEATTLE — Late Orioles game: Last night's game between the Orioles and Mariners in Seattle ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at http://www.sunspot.net.
SEATTLE -- Orioles first baseman Jeff Conine has been through this countless times before, with trade talk swirling around him, making him wonder where he's going to finish the season.
At least this time, the talk involves the Florida Marlins, the team that plays a short drive from his family's offseason home in Weston, Fla. Conine is still known as "Mr. Marlin" in those parts after being named the 1995 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player.
Last week, the Marlins approached the Orioles about swapping first basemen -- Conine for Derrek Lee. To land a young cleanup hitter such as Lee, the Orioles would probably have to eat some of the $7 million Conine has remaining on his contract, which includes an option for 2005.
Conine's agent, Michael Watkins, flew to Seattle and had dinner with Conine on Monday night. They talked about Conine's desire to stay in Baltimore and his preferences should he have to leave.
Would the Marlins be a good fit?
"Yeah, that's where I live," Conine said. "If you look at places that are desirable, it's where you live or playoff contending teams. If you have to go somewhere, that's where you want to go."
But Conine's first preference would be to stay in Baltimore. After signing his contract extension last spring, Conine and his wife, Cindy, bought an apartment in Baltimore. They have three young children, and the family gets to spend their summers together once school ends.
"This is my fifth year here," Conine said. "I enjoy Baltimore. I love the stadium. I like everything about it, and I'd love to hopefully be here when we're a playoff-contending team. I think that place could be pretty special."
Conine, 37, has never been traded before, but his name always seems to pop up before the trade deadline.
There had been talk that the Los Angeles Dodgers were interested in Conine, who grew up in Southern California, but major league sources say they have less interest now with Fred McGriff at first base. Conine can play the corner outfield positions and third base, but his best position is first base.
After sweeping Philadelphia this past weekend, the Marlins also pulled back a little in the Lee-for-Conine talks, so maybe that won't happen either.
Orioles manager Mike Hargrove has called Conine the "heart and soul" of his ballclub. Conine entered last night batting .287 with 12 home runs and a team-high 63 RBIs.
"He's one of the guys we have that are just rock steady, whether they're going bad or going good, they're the same people, and they give the same effort," Hargrove said. "By no stretch of the imagination am I saying he's the only one on the club like that.
"He's one of the few guys we have who has been to the World Series and won a World Series as a player. Niner knows the value of hard work and playing hard, and I think our payers pick up on that. Does that mean he's indispensable? No, it doesn't."
More trade buzz
The Orioles may decide to trade Melvin Mora or starting pitcher Sidney Ponson, but according to one major league general manager, "they're asking for the moon."
Teams that have asked about Ponson have been told it will take the top players in their system, and the same goes for Mora, who was a career .249 hitter before this year's breakout season.
The Atlanta Braves are one of the teams with interest in Ponson, but there's some doubt that the Braves would be willing to part with catching prospect Johnny Estrada. Sure, starting catcher Javy Lopez is having a huge season in the final year of his contract, but that's only going to drive up his price for the Braves to re-sign him.
But the Orioles would like to improve their catching corps, so there is interest in Estrada, a switch-hitter, who is batting .335 at Triple-A Richmond.
Segui sits again
David Segui has been out of the starting lineup for the past nine games with a sore right knee. Hargrove said he would watch Segui take batting practice yesterday before deciding whether he could use him as a pinch hitter in last night's game.
Segui struck out in both of his pinch-hit appearances since he last started a game on June 27.
"He had two good days of BP," Hargrove said, "and in his pinch hit at-bat [Sunday], he didn't look right."
Larry Bigbie is still on the Orioles' disabled list with a strained right hamstring. He resumed his running regimen and has started taking batting practice at the team's extended spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla.
Soon, he should be able to resume his minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Ripken Series update
More than 1,500 tournament passes have been sold for next month's Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen. They remain on sale through TicketMaster (410-461-SEAT) or at the Ripken Stadium box office.
Tournament passes cost $20 for adults and $12 for children (10 and under), and provide access to the entire tournament, which runs Aug. 14-24.
Fifteen teams of 12-year-olds from around the world will compete, including a Harford County representative and international squads from Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Korea and Mexico.
Anyone interested in being a tournament volunteer or host family to players should call 410-297-9085.
Sun staff writer Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.