Lopez catches break as O's add Huckaby


Third catcher will allow starter to get some rest

other teams seek Ponson


July 07, 2004|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen | Roch Kubatko and Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Needing to provide more rest for Javy Lopez, who has missed only two games this year, the Orioles claimed catcher Ken Huckaby off waivers from the Texas Rangers and added him to the 40-man roster.

A corresponding move on the 25-man roster will be made today, when Huckaby reports to the Orioles.

The Orioles intend to carry three catchers, including backup Robert Machado. The arrangement will allow them to sit Lopez more easily for entire games or use him as the designated hitter without having to use him behind the plate in the late innings if they pinch hit for Huckaby or Machado.

"I feel like staying with three catchers is OK," manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Huckaby, 33, was batting .160 (4-for-25) in eight games with the Rangers this season after they purchased his contract from Triple-A Oklahoma on May 21. He was designated for assignment Friday.

"We're just trying to do something that might help us," said Ed Kenney, director of baseball administration. "Every day names come up and we discuss the guys who are there. He fit what we were looking for and we figured we'd take a chance. Sometimes you get lucky."

Huckaby is a career .235 hitter in parts of four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays and Texas. He hit an inside-the-park homer against the Orioles on July 17, 2002, while playing for the Blue Jays. He's also remembered for separating Derek Jeter's shoulder on Opening Day 2003 while covering third base.

The Orioles transferred pitcher Eric DuBose to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Huckaby on the 40-man roster. DuBose had surgery last week to remove bone chips from his left elbow.

The commissioners office instructed the Orioles that they had to put Huckaby on the 40-man roster yesterday rather than wait until today, prompting them to change DuBose's status.

Interest in Ponson

When the Orioles signed Sidney Ponson to a three-year, $22.5 million contract in January, they included some special trade provisions. Ponson has a blanket no-trade clause for this season, meaning he would have to approve any deal the team tried to make.

Next season, Ponson has a limited no-trade clause, and his contract allows him to pick 10 teams for which he could void any deal. In 2006, Ponson loses all no-trade protection.

Ponson asked for the no-trade clauses because of his strong feelings for Baltimore and the fact that he was the subject of trade rumors for years before the Orioles dealt him to the San Francisco Giants last July 31.

According to major league sources, multiple teams have told the Orioles they would be interested in acquiring Ponson this season, even though he's having a disappointing year and still has two years remaining on this contract.

Ponson is 3-12 with a 6.29 ERA, but scouts say he hasn't lost anything off his pitches, as he still has the 94-mph fastball and hard-breaking slider.

Parrish gets a start

Needing a starter to take Matt Riley's place tonight, the Orioles turned to left-hander John Parrish, who hasn't worked out of the rotation since getting one chance in 2001.

Parrish was told of his assignment after last night's game. He hasn't pitched since going three innings Friday in Philadelphia. The most he has thrown this season is four.

"I'm just going to go out there and do my best to get us into the sixth or seventh inning," said Parrish, who's 5-2 with a 3.91 ERA.

Rick Bauer also was a candidate before pitching the ninth inning last night.

Borkowski savors win

Dave Borkowski saved the baseballs from his first major league victory with Detroit, and his first win at Tiger Stadium. He keeps them in separate cases at his home in Holland, Ohio.

There's always room for one more.

Borkowski secured the ball from the last out in Game 2 of Monday's doubleheader, when he took a shutout bid into the ninth in an 8-2 win. Borkowski left after one out, but the Orioles made sure he got a souvenir.

"It means a ton to me," said Borkowski, who hadn't won in the majors since having shoulder and elbow surgery in 2001.

"I know I can pitch. I know I have good stuff. I didn't necessarily surprise myself, but I surely wasn't expecting to take a shutout into the ninth."

Around the horn

The four active players who have hit 500 or more home runs - Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey and Sammy Sosa - have been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby the day before Tuesday's All-Star Game in Houston. Palmeiro has accepted the offer. ... Orioles right-hander Daniel Cabrera leads American League rookies in wins (five), opponents' average (.227) and innings (70 2/3 ), and is second in ERA (3.18) and starts (11).

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