For O's, all's quiet on trade front as deadline passes

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

No repeat of Conine deal as O's relievers stay

Leon awaits chance to play

Notebook

September 01, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Another trade deadline came and went last night, and the Orioles didn't make any moves.

Unlike last year, when Jeff Conine was sent to the Florida Marlins after he boarded the team charter back to Baltimore, the Orioles never appeared close to completing a deal.

Players who slipped through waivers and were eligible to be traded, including B.J. Surhoff and relievers Buddy Groom and Jason Grimsley, remained with the club as it began a three-game series last night against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.

Yesterday was the deadline for teams to set their playoff rosters, so anyone looking to add a player for the stretch run had to make a deal before midnight.

"I don't see anything in the cards," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said before the game.

"I don't anticipate anything going on," said Jim Beattie, executive vice president of baseball operations.

Conine went to the Marlins last August for minor league pitchers Denny Bautista and Don Levinski - a trade that was viewed within the industry as a major coup for the Orioles.

But they soured on Bautista this year and dealt him to the Kansas City Royals for Grimsley, and Levinski went 1-6 with a 6.48 ERA in 31 games before being shut down with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Bautista is 4-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 75 innings at Double-A Wichita, and the Royals intend to call him up.

Groom stayed with the Orioles despite the number of contending teams, including the Minnesota Twins, looking for left-handed relief. B.J. Ryan was claimed off waivers, and the Orioles pulled him back.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were in obvious need of bullpen help after trading Guillermo Mota on July 31 and losing Darren Dreifort to injury.

"We monitored things," Beattie said, "but we kind of sensed that for us, nothing was going to happen."

Leon faces 1-month test

With only 32 games remaining in the season, infielder Jose Leon understands that his time with the Orioles is running out.

Leon is out of minor league options, so he could be changing organizations next season if the Orioles can't find room for him on the 25-man roster. They intend to give him some starts at first base against left-handers, cutting further into Rafael Palmeiro's at-bats.

"Like I always say, I always come here and try to do my best," said Leon, 27, who was acquired from St. Louis on July 31, 2000, for Will Clark.

"The Triple-A season is almost over, so I guess I'm going to stay here for the rest of the season. That's why I continue working hard, so I can do the same job here that I did over there. I was hitting the ball pretty good over there."

He usually does. Leon was batting .322 with 17 homers and 54 RBIs at Ottawa before being recalled for a fourth time.

"I feel more confident now," he said. "I've been swinging the bat well. I've been hitting the ball everywhere."

He is batting .135 (5-for-37) with the Orioles this season, and the club needs to determine whether his productivity with the Lynx will carry over to the majors.

"Now I've got a month to show these guys I can be in the big leagues," he said.

Leon primarily was a third baseman in the Cardinals' system and in Ottawa, but the Orioles have more interest in him as a first baseman since Melvin Mora is entrenched at third. He made a diving stop and throw to record an out Saturday night in Texas.

"I've got to make an impression," he said. "I had a pretty good year in Triple-A, but I've got to show that I can do it here, too. I'm going to do my best."

Bigbie hits 2 HRs for Keys

Larry Bigbie homered twice in five at-bats in his injury rehab assignment at Single-A Frederick last night. Bigbie, who will rejoin the Orioles today when rosters expand, sat out Monday's game with the Keys because of poor field conditions that resulted from a sprinkler that ran overnight.

David Segui also will be activated today. Mazzilli indicated that he'll make some starts at first base, though most of his at-bats are expected to come as the designated hitter.

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