Beat-up O's acquire utility man Marrero in deal with Royals

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Right-handed-hitting vet also can catch in a pinch

McDonogh's Erbe drafted

Notebook

June 09, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PITTSBURGH - In need of an experienced right-handed bat and more catching depth, the Orioles have finalized a trade for utility player Eli Marrero.

The Kansas City Royals designated Marrero, 31, for assignment on May 31, the same day they named Buddy Bell manager. He was hitting .159 with four homers, nine RBIs and a .222 on-base percentage in 32 games.

Marrero will take his physical in Baltimore today and join the team tomorrow in Cincinnati.

"I'm pretty excited that we acquired him because I think he's definitely going to be a boost to this team," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "The team's playing well and it's always good to add on when you're playing well. I've always liked him."

The Royals made a modified proposal to the Orioles and accepted low Single-A Delmarva infielder Pete Maestrales, who turns 26 in July.

Maestrales is batting .303 with eight home runs in 52 games. He spent last season with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League.

The Royals will pick up a significant portion of Marrero's $3.2 million contract.

"He's an experienced right-handed bat and he's been in the playoffs," executive vice president Jim Beattie said. "He can be in a platoon situation in the outfield and at first base, and also serve as an emergency third catcher. But he'll primarily play the outfield."

Marrero batted .415 against left-handers in 2004, compared to .250 against right-handers.

Kansas City general manager Allard Baird obtained Marrero from the Atlanta Braves on Dec. 16 for pitcher Jorge Vasquez. Marrero batted a career-high .320 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs with the Braves, who acquired him the previous winter from the St. Louis Cardinals along with outfielder J.D. Drew for reliever Ray King and pitching prospects Jason Marquis and Adam Wainwright.

Marrero appeared in nine games at first base for the Royals, eight in left field, five in center and seven in right. In his career, he has caught in 339 games and played 245 in the outfield.

His value dropped with the Braves once he informed them last season that he had little interest in catching. He hasn't caught since working six games behind the plate in 2003.

"I already spoke to him," Mazzilli said. "He doesn't have a problem with that. He said he could even catch some guys in the bullpen to get back into it."

The Orioles lost catcher Javy Lopez to a broken right hand on May 25. With Marrero's outfield experience, the Orioles are expected to return Napoleon Calzado to the minors tomorrow.

Marrero is a career .246 hitter in eight seasons. He hadn't batted higher than .266 until last season. A former third-round pick of the Cardinals, he was designated for assignment this year while mired in a 1-for-22 slump.

Beattie will be facing a roster crunch as injured players such as Larry Bigbie and Luis Matos return to the active roster. Bigbie is expected back on Monday, and Matos should return within 10 days.

"We've got to get there first," Beattie said. "We've got to focus on winning games now."

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated Triple-A pitcher Jacobo Sequea for assignment. Sequea saved 27 games at Double-A Bowie last year, the club's single-season record, but he posted a 7.58 ERA at Ottawa this season.

Erbe gets his draft wish

McDonogh senior right-hander Brandon Erbe didn't want to stay at his Pikesville home on Tuesday and follow the Major League Baseball first-year player draft on the Internet. The process, he felt, would be far too agonizing.

He decided instead to accompany his father to work, hoping for the best but unsure when he'd get the call. It came while they were at a Loch Raven home, uncovering a swimming pool. When Erbe was informed that he had been drafted by the Orioles, the team he grew up rooting for, they "jumped around" in celebration.

"I didn't really expect it, but I was hoping for it," said Erbe, who went 2-5 this year for McDonogh, but impressed Orioles officials at Camden Yards last week, where his fastball topped out at 97 mph. "I was ecstatic. I really couldn't believe it."

Erbe accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Miami, but the Orioles are likely too good for him to pass up.

"Everybody asked me if I had a choice, what team would it be, and I said the Orioles," Erbe said. "I grew up 10 minutes from the stadium, and to get an opportunity to pitch there, it's kind of surreal. It's going to be a hard call, but I am definitely looking to sign. This is what I always wanted to do."

Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

Marrero's stats

Regular season

Year Team Avg AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI

1997 St. L .244 45 4 11 2 0 2 7

1998 St. L .244 254 28 62 18 1 4 20

1999 St. L .192 317 32 61 13 1 6 34

2000 St. L .225 102 21 23 3 1 5 17

2001 St. L .266 203 37 54 11 3 6 23

2002 St. L .262 397 63 104 19 1 18 66

2003 St. L .224 107 10 24 4 2 2 20

2004 Atl. .320 250 37 80 18 1 10 40

2005 K.C. .159 88 11 14 4 0 4 9

Totals .246 1763 243 433 92 10 57 236

Postseason

2000 St. L .000 4 0 0 0 0 0 1

2001 St. L .000 7 0 0 0 0 0 0

2002 St. L .136 22 1 3 1 0 1 2

2004 Atl. .200 5 0 1 0 0 0 0

Totals .105 38 1 4 1 0 1 3

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