Ponson's contract too rich for Rangers

Team interested in Oriole, but $8M for "06 is problem

July 28, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Late Orioles game: Last night's game between the Orioles and Texas Rangers at Camden Yards ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at www.baltimoresun.com.

While the Orioles and Texas Rangers continue to hold discussions regarding Sidney Ponson, the amount of the pitcher's contract that the Rangers are willing to inherit remains a major obstacle to completing a trade.

Ponson will receive $8 million next season, with another $2 million deferred through 2008. Industry sources said the two sides aren't close to agreeing on how much money the Orioles should absorb to unload Ponson, who's 7-9 with a 5.91 ERA this season and 18-24 since signing a three-year, $22.5 million contract Jan. 14, 2004.

The Rangers have been intrigued by Ponson in the past, mostly because of his ability to consume innings. They once engaged in trade talks that involved outfielder Gabe Kapler, and also tried to sign him as a free agent before he returned to the Orioles and his stock began to drop.

"We"ve had interest in him before." Rangers owner Tom Hicks said yesterday. "Our guys have talked about him [this season], but not at the contract level he signed two years ago."

An Orioles source said the club isn't interested in outfielder Richard Hidalgo, but the Rangers are willing to move first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The Orioles covet Severna Park native and All-Star starter Mark Teixeira, but the first baseman is under the Rangers" control for three more years and considered untouchable.

The Orioles want to upgrade their outfield, but the team source said there's no interest in the Pittsburgh Pirates" Matt Lawton or the Cincinnati Reds" Ken Griffey.

They also are trying to acquire a front-line starting pitcher and have engaged in talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are willing to trade Odalis Perez and Jeff Weaver. But a Dodgers source said the two clubs don't appear to be a match unless the Orioles relinquish a franchise-type player such as third baseman Melvin Mora.

The San Francisco Giants no longer are willing to trade Jason Schmidt, according to an industry source, and the Chicago White Sox are convinced they can acquire A.J. Burnett from the Florida Marlins, who once thought they had a deal with the Orioles before it fell through.

The Orioles didn't want to take on third baseman Mike Lowell's contract, which pays him $18 million over the next two years, and they couldn't agree internally on Burnett's worth.

Newhan recalled

David Newhan is getting another chance with the Orioles.

Eli Marrero went on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with a sprained right thumb, and the Orioles recalled Newhan from Triple-A Ottawa to take his place.

Newhan will report to Camden Yards today for his third stint with the club. He was batting .366 (15-for-41) with one homer and eight RBIs in 11 games with the Lynx.

The Orioles optioned Newhan to Ottawa for a second time July 7 after he went 2-for-8 in nine games. Newhan, batting .198 in 49 games with the Orioles this season, voiced his frustration and suggested that a trade would benefit both sides.

Marrero will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test today and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. He suffered the injury while sliding into home plate in the second inning of Tuesday night's game, a failed attempt to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run.

The Orioles were prepared to release Marrero this week if Phil Nevin hadn't refused to waive his no-trade clause and nixed a proposed deal with the San Diego Padres. Marrero is batting .220 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 22 games with the Orioles since they acquired him from the Kansas City Royals last month.

Around the horn

Jay Gibbons wasn't in the Orioles' starting lineup again last night because of recurring back spasms. ... Reliever Steve Reed cleared waivers and was given his outright release. Reed, 40, is contemplating retirement. ... Last night's game started after a 1-hour, 37-minute rain delay.

Sun staff writer Kent Baker contributed to this article.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Texas Rangers

Site, time: Camden Yards, 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Rangers' Ricardo Rodriguez (2-2, 5.31) vs. Orioles' Sidney Ponson (7-9, 5.91)

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