O's warming up Julio trade thoughts


Eligible for arbitration, closer could go by July 31

Matos sits with sore shin

July 23, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - According to major league sources, the Orioles are giving serious thought to trading closer Jorge Julio before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, with multiple teams showing interest in acquiring him as a primary setup man.

Julio, who is making $385,000 this year, will be eligible for arbitration at season's end and could command about $3 million for next season.

The Orioles know how valuable he could be to a contender, and if they can get the right players in return, they would move Julio, 25, and insert left-hander B.J. Ryan into the closer's role.

Ryan is practically untouchable. One Orioles official said they would have to be completely overwhelmed to move him.

The San Francisco Giants have bullpen concerns with closer Robb Nen injured and Matt Herges riding a 5.89 ERA. But an industry source said the Giants would be more likely to target Orioles lefty Buddy Groom.

Across the bay, the Oakland Athletics seem to be the one contender with a need at second base, and the A's have expressed interest in Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, a cheaper alternative to Jerry Hairston.

A package deal, involving Julio and Roberts, could bring the Orioles closer to their grandiose goal of landing A's left-hander Barry Zito.

One major league executive, whose team recently asked about Zito, said the A's didn't rule out moving him. Zito, 26, won a Cy Young Award two years ago but has gone 5-7 with a 4.61 ERA this season.

X-rays for Matos, Roberts

Between games of yesterday's doubleheader, the Orioles sent Roberts and center fielder Luis Matos for X-rays, and the results showed no broken bones.

Matos, who had a stress fracture in his right shin earlier this season, banged that shin against the Green Monster making a catch in the fourth inning Wednesday night. He did not play in either game yesterday.

Roberts bruised the knuckle on his right middle finger trying to execute a bunt in the sixth inning of Game 1. He had bruised the pinkie on the same hand Tuesday in Kansas City, and after shaking off the pain again yesterday, he finished the at-bat with an RBI triple to right field.

Roberts was back in the lineup for the second game, and Matos' status is day-to-day.

Maine's debut

John Maine, the Orioles' top pitching prospect, will make his major league debut tonight against the Minnesota Twins, and manager Lee Mazzilli said Maine has the same chance of sticking in the big leagues as Daniel Cabrera and Dave Borkowski.

Cabrera and Borkowski both pitched so well in their first start this year, the team decided to keep both in their rotation.

Maine, 23, began the season at Double-A Bowie, where he went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA before making the jump to Triple-A Ottawa. After struggling there initially, Maine posted a 1.50 ERA in his past five starts.

The Orioles grabbed Maine with their sixth-round pick in the 2002 draft. In his three-year career in the minors, he has posted 349 strikeouts and just 87 walks in 194 innings.

"He'll go [tonight], and we'll see where we go from there," Mazzilli said.

Segui injured again

David Segui's surgically repaired left knee flared up again Monday after the first game of his minor league rehabilitation assignment for Double-A Bowie, so the Orioles shut him down again.

The Orioles were hoping Segui could return from the disabled list this month to bolster their bench. Segui, who is in the final year of a four-year, $28 million contract, has played just 13 games this season, hitting .298.

Around the horn

The Orioles are giving away orange, black and gray camouflage floppy hats to the first 25,000 fans 21-and-over for tonight's game. ... The Orioles and Twins will wear throwback uniforms from 1975 tomorrow and Sunday, as the Orioles commemorate the 1970s in their continuing turn-back-the-clock series. A group of 1970s-era Orioles, including Terry Crowley, Mike Cuellar, Rick Dempsey, Mike Flanagan, Elrod Hendricks, Scott McGregor, Boog Powell and Ken Singleton will participate in a pre-game ceremony tomorrow.

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