The pending non-waiver trade deadline once again has Orioles manager Mike Hargrove wondering what his club will look like after July 31.
Not that it's become a distraction. Hargrove has been through this process too many times.
"You're not on pins and needles, but you understand what's going on in the players' minds," he said.
"For the team that's on the field right now, it's one of those bridges that you cross when you come to it. You don't try to get too far ahead of yourself.
"Something may happen. If it does, that's OK. If it doesn't, that's OK, too."
The Orioles continue to field inquiries about Jeff Conine, who was batting .333 with 12 RBIs in his past 16 games before going 0-for-3 last night.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, who recently traded for Jeromy Burnitz and signed Rickey Henderson, still have interest in Conine. The Florida Marlins initiated talks involving Conine and first baseman Derrek Lee. Seattle would like to get more run production out of left field and make Randy Winn a reserve.
A Dodgers scout has attended the first two games of this series, and Conine remains a good fit for them.
"It's a business," Conine said. "The first couple years I'd worry about it, then realize I have no say in it. You get used to it.
"I've always said I want to be here when this team makes the playoffs."
Mora on historic role
The race for the American League batting title has reached another turn, with Melvin Mora (.346) trailing Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki (.352) by six points after last night's games.
Mora is making a historic run at the lead.
His career average was .249 heading into the season. Only one player since 1901, Seattle's Alex Rodriguez (.224) in 1996, had a lower lifetime average before winning his first title.
Rodriguez, who batted .358 for the Mariners, had appeared in only 65 games over two seasons. Mora appeared in 475 games over four years before 2003.
The 10 lowest averages were: Rodriguez; Terry Pendleton, .259 to .319 in 1991; Gary Sheffield, .259 to .330 in 1992; Matty Alou, .260 to .342 in 1966; Willie Mays, .266 to .345 in 1954; Andres Galarraga, .267 to .370 in 1993; Paul O'Neill, .268 to .359 in 1994; John Olerud, .269 to .363 in 1993; Al Kaline, .274 to .340 in 1955; Keith Hernandez, .274 to .344 in 1979.
Break good for Roberts
Second baseman Brian Roberts spent the All-Star break doing a lot of nothing, which seemed the perfect remedy for his aching back.
"I laid around the house, hung out with friends, ate," said Roberts, who returned home to Chapel Hill, N.C. "I didn't even think about baseball."
Or the spasms that forced him out of a July 8 loss.
"It's better," said Roberts, who missed two games. "It lingered longer than I would have liked, but for the most part it's pretty good right now."
An actor for Aberdeen
The Aberdeen IronBirds, a short-season affiliate of the Orioles, expanded their roster for a weeklong homestand that began last night. But they didn't receive a prospect.
They got an actor.
Matthew Modine will work out with the team each day while preparing to play Hall of Famer Honus Wagner in a TNT film that airs next spring.
Modine has appeared in more than 30 films, including Full Metal Jacket, Married to the Mob and Vision Quest.
"Going into this project, I knew that I wanted to spend time with a team to get some basic fundamentals down," Modine said in a statement released by the IronBirds. "Having [met] Cal Ripken Jr. on several occasions, his team was the first one that I thought of."
Adam Loewen lowered his ERA to 1.69 in four starts with Aberdeen after tossing four shutout innings Thursday night against Hudson Valley. The only hit off him was an infield single.