Bonds an Oriole in '07? That idea just won't fly

NL notebook

June 04, 2006|By COMPILED FROM INTERVIEWS AND OTHER NEWSPAPERS' REPORTS.

Now that San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has passed Babe Ruth for second on the all-time home run list, will he stick around long enough to try to hit 40 more homers and catch Hank Aaron at 755?

Most likely, Bonds says, if he's healthy enough. And that brings up another question: Where does the pending free agent go next year to chase Aaron?

After watching Bonds for two months, anyone can see he is no longer able to run without pain and, subsequently, is a detriment to the team in the field.

So if he returns in 2007 it likely will be in the American League as a designated hitter. He'll go to a team that is able to absorb his lofty salary demands, one that has an opening at DH and needs a sure-fire attendance draw.

Sound like a club near you?

The Orioles desire a big bopper in the middle of their lineup. Their DH, Javy Lopez, is a free agent. And the 2006 attendance could be historically bad at Camden Yards.

On the surface, it's a match, especially considering that the club has a history of taking on aging stars nearing milestones - Eddie Murray, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.

But it won't happen. That's guaranteed, according to one Orioles official who requested anonymity because Bonds is under contract with the Giants.

"We wouldn't be interested," the official said. "It's nothing personal. He just doesn't fit what we want to do."

The source said there hasn't been much discussion within the warehouse about Bonds. However, the official said owner Peter Angelos would not pay what it would take to land Bonds, who is making $18 million in 2006.

The reasoning is simple: The Orioles' priority is a power hitter - preferably a first baseman - who will be around for the next few years, not just one or even two seasons.

If the Orioles are going to spend top dollar, it's going to be for a player they can add to the nucleus that has been built through 2009.

Angelos apparently isn't scared off by Bonds' age - he'll be 42 next season - and steroid allegations, even after the failed Sosa experiment and the Palmeiro scandal.

The official said that if the Orioles thought the price was right and Bonds fit their needs, they would consider taking a chance on him.

But he doesn't. So they won't.

Total recall

Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker was confused recently when asked about the strong play of former Cub and current Orioles starting center fielder Corey Patterson.

"Corey?" Baker asked.

When Patterson's name was reiterated, Baker responded: "Oh, yeah. He called me a couple weeks ago to say hello and see what's going on. I'm happy for him because I was one of the guys that really believed in him a lot."

Eischen vows return

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Joey Eischen's torn rotator cuff could cost him a year of rehabilitation and, at age 36, possibly his career. But the outspoken left-hander, pound-for-pound one of baseball's toughest guys, believes he'll return in the spring.

"They say 12 months," Eischen said. "I never, ever don't beat those deadlines. I work harder than the other guys."

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