Off roster, Gil awaits next move

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

March 29, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles are expected to make a decision this morning on the fate of catcher Geronimo Gil, who cleared waivers yesterday. They could either outright Gil or the 30-year-old reserve could opt to become a free agent.

Asked if he would accept a demotion, Gil said yesterday, "I don't know. It's difficult for me right now, because I don't know about that, putting me on waivers. That decision is to be made by the manager and general manager. I have to wait, because I know nothing about that."

Gil's removal from the 40-man roster suggests that the Orioles are prepared to go with just two catchers, starter Ramon Hernandez and Javy Lopez, who is expected to be the club's Opening Day first baseman.

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said yesterday that a decision has not been made on whether the team will carry two or three catchers. The club also could sign a catcher, who is on waivers. One possible option is Cleveland's Einar Diaz, who could be released if he doesn't beat out Kelly Shoppach for the backup job.

First baseman/outfielder Kevin Millar has approached Perlozzo and told the manager that he could be used as an emergency third catcher if needed.

Millar was the emergency catcher his entire career with Florida and also could have been with Boston but was never needed. He learned to catch while in an instructional league in 1996.

"It's an emergency situation," Millar said. "Have I caught? Yeah. Have I caught in a major league baseball game? Not yet. I mean to. I have begged major league teams but they haven't let me. ... I love playing. I'd play six positions in a week if you want."

Asked what would happen if he had to catch for more than three innings or so, Millar said, "Then we're in trouble. We've got to call timeout and they have to pull the plug on the lights or something."

More roster moves

The Orioles reassigned seven nonroster players to their minor league camp in Sarasota, leaving them with 33 active players at major league camp.

Third baseman Fernando Tatis, utility men Napoleon Calzado, Eddy Garabito and Howie Clark, outfielder Esix Snead and relievers Vic Darensbourg and Andy Mitchell were reassigned.

Mazzone tattoo

Immensely proud of the 14 straight division titles the Atlanta Braves won with him as pitching coach, Leo Mazzone decided to go out last weekend and commemorate the feat.

With the prodding of Millar, the Orioles' new pitching coach got a tattoo on his left shoulder of a red-and-blue pennant with the words "14 straight" inside it.

"I drank a little wine and that did it," Mazzone said. "I hope I can put an X on it and make it 15 straight."

Millar also bought black-and-orange hats for several Orioles with personal slogans on them.

J. Lopez's agent visits

Chuck Berry, the agent for Javy Lopez, stopped by camp yesterday and had a brief meeting with Orioles vice president Jim Duquette.

The two discussed Lopez's progress at first base and not a possible contract extension.

Lopez has struggled defensively throughout the spring. Yesterday, he botched a pickoff attempt. He also went 0-for-3 at the plate and is now hitting .139.

"It's obvious that he divided his thoughts between his defense and his offense," said Perlozzo, who dropped Lopez to seventh in the order yesterday.

Home season ends

The Orioles finished their home exhibition season yesterday, drawing 80,219 to Fort Lauderdale Stadium over 14 games, their fourth-highest total in 11 springs here.

Among the 5,142 in attendance yesterday were two college-aged fans holding up signs that read: "Millar, Buy us a beer" and "Nick Markakis, Will you marry me?"jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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