O's meet and greet Pavano on tour

Free-agent right-hander courted by management as team makes its pitch

Baseball

December 06, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles took their turn yesterday courting free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano, greeting him at Penn Station and arranging dinner with owner Peter Angelos.

In time, they will find out if their first swings of the offseason moved them ahead of two division rivals.

Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie met Pavano and agent Scott Shapiro around 3 p.m., making Baltimore the fourth stop on Pavano's whirlwind tour.

The itinerary was supposed to begin with the second half of the Ravens' game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the invitation was declined after Pavano's train arrived too late.

"We would have loved to have gone," Shapiro said, "but we needed to rest a little bit."

Pavano and Shapiro went directly to their hotel before having dinner last night with Angelos, Beattie, vice president Mike Flanagan, manager Lee Mazzilli and pitching coach Ray Miller. They convened for more than three hours.

"They're great people," Shapiro said. "Everybody's taking the time to give us an opportunity to meet with them. They're very accommodating. It's a special group of guys. There was a lot of really positive energy. What's not to like?"

Beattie didn't return calls from The Sun last night.

Pavano will board a 4:55 p.m. flight today for Seattle after checking out all that Camden Yards has to offer, including the video system. His tour will end later this week in Anaheim, where baseball's winter meetings begin Friday.

"The general feeling is the Orioles are moving in a very positive direction," Shapiro said.

Visits already have been made to Boston, Detroit and New York, where the Yankees arranged for Pavano to dine with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and treated him to a Broadway show.

The Red Sox and Yankees are considered the favorites to sign Pavano, who went 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA for the Florida Marlins last season. His mother and sister bought Yankees rings during a recent stop in New York and displayed them at Thanksgiving - in case the Connecticut native can take a hint.

Pavano rejected the Marlins' offer of $21 million over three years, and Shapiro disputed a report that the Tigers offered $40 million over four years. The Orioles, searching for at least one front-line starter for their rotation, could make a formal proposal today.

"It's all up to Carl," Shapiro said. "I can only help with the decision, but ultimately it's up to him. And it's going to be a very difficult decision when you have some of the best organizations in baseball getting involved like this."

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