Beattie doesn't see trade before season

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's still `kicking the tires,' but Dodgers deal fades

Hairston gets bad news

March 27, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

VERO BEACH, Fla. - With little more than a week remaining until Opening Night, Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie all but ruled out the possibility of his team pulling a trade yesterday.

Beattie said there's about a 90 percent chance a trade won't happen before the season starts.

"Everyone's kicking the tires, but I don't see a deal getting done right now," Beattie said.

Beattie and Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta had a lengthly conversation beneath the canopy at Holman Stadium yesterday during the second of two rain delays in the Orioles' 11-4 victory.

The Dodgers are desperate to add offense, and according to major league sources, they have asked about several hitters in the Orioles' lineup, including Larry Bigbie, Jay Gibbons, Jerry Hairston, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora.

The Orioles have inexperienced starting pitching, and this was supposed to be one of the Dodgers' biggest strengths. But most of the Dodgers' starters have struggled this spring.

Odalis Perez has a 0.60 ERA, but Hideo Nomo, Jeff Weaver, Kazuhisa Ishii and Edwin Jackson each entered yesterday with an ERA of 8.47 or higher. Jackson is a prized prospect, but his ERA is 8.59, and the Dodgers are more apt to send him back to the minors and put Jose Lima (2.25 ERA) in their rotation.

Beattie acknowledged he has had numerous conversations with the Dodgers, but so far there hasn't been a match. "We feel very good about our starters and the guys who play every day," he said. "But we don't have a lot of depth in the offense."

Hairston 5-6 weeks away

Second baseman Jerry Hairston was hoping to return to the lineup by mid-April. But after having his broken right ring finger examined by a Johns Hopkins hand specialist yesterday, Hairston learned it could be closer to mid-May.

Hairston fractured the second knuckle of his right ring finger on a headfirst slide in the first exhibition game March 4. The Orioles originally said it would take six to eight weeks for him to heal, and now it looks like it'll be at least that long.

"The bone is healed," Beattie said. "It's just the soft tissue in there that has to heal, and that takes time."

Hairston has been wearing a protective splint on the finger and he was hoping to have it removed yesterday after his visit to Dr. Mark Dietch. But the plan is to keep Hairston in the splint for another three weeks.

"Then, it'll be another three weeks until he's ready to play," Beattie said. "So we're looking at another five to six weeks."

Riley makes his case

The worst-kept secret of the spring came closer to being divulged, as Matt Riley made another case for why he should be the club's No. 5 starter.

Riley held the Dodgers to three hits and one walk over 4 1/3 scoreless innings yesterday. His fastball was clocked at 94 mph.

He weathered a 26-minute rain delay in the second inning, and when play was stopped again in the fifth, he was pulled.

Riley has allowed just one earned run in his past 12 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.81. He is expected to be given the nod as the fifth starter over fellow rookie Erik Bedard, who is scheduled to pitch tonight. Manager Lee Mazzilli said he's made his decision but wants to tell the players first.

"He's making a strong case for himself," Mazzilli said of Riley. "I can tell you that."

Mora nails down No. 2 spot

Mazzilli said he plans to use Melvin Mora as his No. 2 hitter to start the season. Mazzilli had also considered Larry Bigbie and Luis Matos for the spot. Mora went 2-for-3 yesterday with a double and a home run to raise his spring average to .244.

A year ago, Mora posted a .418 on-base percentage.

"He puts the ball in play," Mazzilli said. "He's a gap-to-gap type of hitter. Plus he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. His on-base percentage is good, and that's what I like. I need guys on base for our big guys."

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