Red Sox appear O's main rivals in pursuit of Burnett


Paying for Lowell could give O's edge

J. Lopez hits


July 17, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - The race to acquire Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett could be down to two teams, the Orioles and Boston Red Sox, according to an industry source.

The Red Sox are offering pitcher Bronson Arroyo and prospects for Burnett, according to the source. The Orioles are willing to part with reliever Jorge Julio, outfielder Larry Bigbie and minor league pitcher Hayden Penn, and have discussed an expanded package that includes reliever Steve Kline and Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell.

The Orioles could have the edge by their willingness to take Lowell, who's owed $18 million over the next two seasons. The Red Sox have no apparent interest in him, but they've become more aggressive in their pursuit of Burnett.

It's believed that Burnett, a free agent after this season, would sign an extension with the Orioles and Red Sox.

Executive vice president Jim Beattie indicated yesterday that the Orioles weren't on the verge of making any deals.

"If there's a player out there who's going to make us better, we're looking at him," Beattie said. "I feel good that, with the players we have, we're able to do some things because we have good young players that everybody wants."

Beattie also said he doesn't expect to negotiate with pending free-agent closer B.J. Ryan until after the season.

`Babe' Fasano

Catcher Sal Fasano might want to update his baseball resume to include more mention of his offensive skills.

Known as a solid backup who calls a good game and is adept at handling a young pitching staff, Fasano began last night with eight home runs in 102 at-bats, tying his career high in 1998 with the Kansas City Royals that required 216 at-bats. He went deep in the first two games of this series, but rookie Eli Whiteside started last night. He'll return to the lineup today.

"In the past I was a power hitter in the minor leagues, but I never got the opportunity to do it in the big leagues," Fasano said. "When you're a platoon guy or a backup, it's tough when you get your home run stroke and then take four or five days off."

Fasano hit his latest homer in the eighth inning of Friday night's 6-3 win, providing a late insurance run.

It's likely the Orioles will keep Fasano as their backup once Javy Lopez comes off the disabled list.

"I don't assume anything anymore because I've been through so much," he said.

J. Lopez takes BP

Lopez took early batting practice yesterday, the first time he has hit on the field since the Orioles shut him down because of swelling in his surgically repaired right hand July 5.

Lopez and center fielder Luis Matos took turns in the cage as manager Lee Mazzilli, trainer Richie Bancells and hitting coach Terry Crowley kept watch.

"I feel all right," Lopez said. "The strength's not there yet, but it wasn't painful."

The Orioles don't expect Lopez to be activated before the end of the road trip.

Lopez's hand no longer has any swelling, but he still feels some discomfort related to the surgery.

"It's pain that I'm probably going to have for a long time because of surgery reasons," he said. "But it's not a pain that doesn't allow me to compete. I can get used to it."

Grimsley returns

Most of the hugs Friday were reserved for Rafael Palmeiro in recognition of his 3,000th career hit, but reliever Jason Grimsley received two of his own.

They came from young sons Hunter and John as he left the clubhouse, the latest reward for a pitcher who has returned from reconstructive ligament surgery on his right elbow.

"That makes it all worthwhile," he said. Grimsley faced one batter, getting a called third strike on shortstop Mike Morse to end the sixth inning and preserve a 5-3 lead. It was the first major league appearance for Grimsley since last season.

"It was everything I remembered - the nerves, the same adrenaline," he said. "A lot of times you wonder what that first pitch is going to be like, but you go out there and you're back in your routine. Your body remembers, your mind, everything clicks together. It's like you didn't miss a beat.

"A lot of people wrote me off. These guys didn't. My family didn't. It felt good to get back out there."

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