O's expected to be `very active' with trades this week

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher, outfielder sought

Rangers boss joins Angelos

Notebook

July 27, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec and Kent Baker | Jeff Zrebiec and Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

With four days remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Orioles are seeking to upgrade their pitching staff and their outfield, according to one team source, who maintained the Orioles could be "very active" this weekend.

While no deal appeared imminent, the Orioles and Texas Rangers are apparently talking about a deal involving Orioles right-hander Sidney Ponson. Team and industry officials expect that Ponson, who the Orioles had agreed to trade to San Diego for Phil Nevin last week, will be moved before Sunday's deadline.

The Rangers and Orioles had talked about Ponson before the Nevin deal and they have spoken since it fell through, according to an industry source.

Rangers CEO Tom Hicks flew to Baltimore and watched last night's game with Peter Angelos. Rangers outfielder Richard Hidalgo has been mentioned as a player the Orioles could pursue, but there are some in the organization who don't believe he would be an upgrade. Hidalgo, a free agent after this season, is hitting .225 with 16 home runs and 42 RBIs.

The Rangers are also believed to be showcasing 23-year-old first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. However, an industry source said that Texas would want the Orioles to absorb a sizable amount of Ponson's contract. The Aruban is due $10 million next season.

A team source said that the Orioles are not only committed to improving the top of their rotation, they are dissatisfied with both the offensive and defensive production of their outfield. None of their starting outfielders, Larry Bigbie, Luis Matos and Sammy Sosa, is hitting above .271. And the three have combined for 20 home runs and 74 RBIs.

"The infield is carrying the outfield right now, which is ridiculous," the team source said.

A team source said the Orioles aren't that intrigued by several of the names often mentioned in trade rumors, such as Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Kip Wells, and the trades could take on "a whole different dimension" with different names in the mix.

"It could be very exciting, very interesting," the source said.

Taking a breather

Hitting coach Terry Crowley said the cancellation of batting practice yesterday was just "trying something new" to break the team's slump.

"You don't want to do it too often," he said, "but it gives them a little breather, some time to rest."

Crowley sees encouraging signs, including the restoration of the regular lineup. "We have to try to not focus on the past and look toward today and the future," he said. "We have to believe in ourselves."

Kline rejoins team

Reliever Steve Kline was reinstated yesterday after serving the last day of his four-game suspension for his June 27 ejection by umpire Marty Foster. He was a welcome addition.

"The bullpen was handicapped with one less guy," said Kline, who is tied with B.J. Ryan with 45 appearances. "It was tough because there may be situations where they need you and somebody might have to sacrifice and pitch an extra two-thirds."

Manager Lee Mazzilli said there was "no question" the team missed Kline. "There were times the last few days I really needed him early on in the game," Mazzilli said.

Kline, who faced two batters and allowed two hits last night, said the question of whether the break was good for him will depend on how he pitches upon his return.

"If I throw good, people will say it was good for me. If I throw bad, people will say he's back to normal."

Around the horn

Jay Gibbons was a last-minute scratch from the starting lineup yesterday because of back spasms. ... Luis Matos will meet with fans today at the ESPN Zone from noon until 1 p.m. ... The first 25,000 fans 21 and older who attend tonight's game will receive a free Sosa bobblehead doll.

Sun staff writer Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.

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