Tony Saunders, the former Glen Burnie High standout whose major league career was cut short at age 26 after he twice broke his left arm delivering a pitch, could be ready for a comeback, this time with the Orioles.
The Orioles are close to signing Saunders to a minor league contract. He's expected in Baltimore next week for a physical and, if everything checks out, he'll get an invitation to their major league spring camp.
Saunders, 30, is hoping to return as a left-handed relief specialist, even if it means a long climb back through the minors. The coach of a Tampa, Fla., area youth team encouraged Saunders to try a comeback after watching him pitch batting practice.
"He knows he needs to go back and get his feet wet in the game," said Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan. "We'll see where it goes."
Saunders pitched for the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series and was taken in the following expansion draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
On May 26, 1999, he shattered the humerus bone in his left arm while delivering a pitch. The same thing happened 15 months later in a minor league rehabilitation assignment. He announced his retirement in August 2000.
Tired of reading inaccurate reports that the Orioles had actively pursued such players as Ruben Sierra, Kevin Millwood, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek before they signed elsewhere, Flanagan responded yesterday.
"It's simply not true," he said.
The Orioles did discuss a minor league contract with outfielder Raul Mondesi before he signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, Flanagan said.
Also, the Orioles continue to talk with the agent for first baseman Carlos Delgado, but the negotiations remain stalled. Delgado met with New York Mets officials Thursday and has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow with the Marlins.
The Orioles signed utility infielder Chris Stynes to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Stynes, who turns 32 on Wednesday, hit .216 in 74 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last year before being released in August. He hit .334 in 119 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2000.
Comcast-Spectacor said that its planned sale of three Orioles minor league teams has collapsed, but neither side would say exactly why.
Philadelphia-based Comcast said prospective buyer Triple Play Partners LLC "was not prepared to close on the terms agreed upon" in July for controlling interest in the Bowie Baysox, Delmarva Shorebirds and Frederick Keys.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.