Source: Trade for Burnett near

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Julio, Penn, Bigbie would go to Marlins for 3 players

deal could come today

Notebook

July 18, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - The Orioles boarded their charter for Minnesota yesterday with the same roster as the one they took to the West Coast, but an industry source said it could change quickly.

According to the source, a trade between the Orioles and Florida Marlins involving Marlins starter A.J. Burnett and Orioles reliever Jorge Julio is almost complete. The source expected an announcement to come today, saying the two sides have made significant progress, but a team official said it is doubtful it would happen that soon.

The trade would send Burnett, third baseman Mike Lowell and perhaps minor league outfielder Eric Reed to the Orioles for Julio, outfielder Larry Bigbie and top pitching prospect Hayden Penn.

The team official said talks have run "hot and cold." The Orioles' willingness to take Lowell might have pushed them ahead of the Boston Red Sox, who are offering pitcher Bronson Arroyo and prospects.

Lowell's production has taken a sharp decline, and he's slated to make $18 million over the next two seasons.

According to an Orioles source, there's some debate among team officials over the wisdom of acquiring Lowell and whether he can pull out of a season-long slump. But the Orioles seem open to it if they can reel in Burnett, whose next start is scheduled for tomorrow.

Because Burnett can become a free agent after the season, the Orioles would want to sign him to an extension rather than risk losing him over the winter. But they appear willing to modify the trade package if Burnett's status doesn't change, giving up less to add him to their rotation.

Burnett is 5-6 with a 3.64 ERA. He allowed six runs in five innings of Thursday's start against the Philadelphia Phillies, including three homers in the second inning.

Julio pitched a scoreless inning Friday, stranding two runners, but it came in the seventh. Chris Ray followed him into the game, and manager Lee Mazzilli used the rookie with the score tied in the eighth and ninth Saturday.

Julio has become more expendable with Jason Grimsley activated from the 60-day disabled list. Though Julio hasn't allowed a run in four straight appearances, his ERA is 10.45 over his past 13 games.

Penn is 0-1 with a 6.99 ERA since returning to Double-A Bowie. He allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings against New Britain on July 10.

Confidence in Ray unshaken

The Orioles seem confident that Ray will rebound easily from Saturday's loss, his first in the majors.

Ray gave up a run-scoring single to rookie shortstop Mike Morse in the ninth inning, allowing the Seattle Mariners to escape with a 3-2 win. But Ray's biggest mistake came when he fielded a swinging bunt single by Willie Bloomquist and fired the ball over first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, setting up the decisive at-bat.

"His makeup's real good," Mazzilli said of Ray. "I saw him after the game, and it didn't look like he was dejected. It's almost like he knew that was part of a reliever's life. It's going to happen. That's why I think he's going to be good."

Pitching coach Ray Miller checked on Ray in the dugout and at the reliever's locker.

"I just wanted to see his eyes," Miller said. "I looked at him and he was fine. He's a good, solid kid."

Will Bedard's return help?

Erik Bedard will come off the disabled list today, forcing the Orioles to make a difficult roster move. After making two rehabilitation starts in the minors, he'll return to the Orioles' rotation for the first time since May 21.

Bedard went on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his left knee.

Because Bedard went five innings and threw 75 pitches in his last rehab start at Single-A Delmarva, the Orioles believe he can go a little further tonight.

Miller projected that Bedard could give the Orioles at least six innings and 80 to 90 pitches.

"It depends how it goes, how easy it is, how he struggles, his command," Miller said. "He threw outstanding for me on the side the other day. ... The big thing is his arm has been healthy all the way, and he's been using it."

The Orioles were 27-15 after Bedard's last start, when he shut out the Phillies over seven innings in a 7-0 win. They've gone 22-27 since that night.

Mazzilli delayed making his roster move until today. "You never know what could happen," he said.

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