Orioles not hot for R. Ortiz after flameout in Arizona

NL notebook

June 18, 2006|By COMPILED FROM INTERVIEWS AND OTHER NEWSPAPERS' REPORTS.

Chan Ho Park, Denny Neagle and Juan Guzman may be off the hook.

The Arizona Diamondbacks' Russ Ortiz may now own the unofficial title of "Baseball's Worst Free-Agent Buy Ever," assuming, of course, Carl Pavano ever pitches again for the New York Yankees.

The Diamondbacks - who've had a 2005 Orioles-esque bad week considering the fallout from the Jason Grimsley nightmare - designated Ortiz for assignment Tuesday, meaning they'll be eating what is thought to be a historic $20.45 million in salary through 2008. Basically, Ortiz will get the gross national product of a small country to not pitch again for the Diamondbacks.

The 32-year-old right-hander signed a four-year, $33 million deal with Arizona after the 2004 season. He was 5-11 with a 6.89 ERA in 2005 and 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA this season. He won just one of his last 19 starts for the Diamondbacks.

"The change of scenery might be the best thing in the world for him," manager Bob Melvin said.

But don't expect that new scenery to be in Baltimore, even though Ortiz was one of Orioles pitching coach's Leo Mazzone's prized pupils in Atlanta.

Obviously, no team will touch Ortiz until he has passed through waivers. But even then, the Orioles aren't especially interested.

One Orioles official said there's been internal discussion about Ortiz - including input from Mazzone - and it is unlikely he'll land here. They might talk to him about a minor league deal, but it's believed his velocity is down and he's no longer the same pitcher who went 36-16 in two seasons with the Braves, the official said.

Fasano's take

Philadelphia Phillies catcher Sal Fasano was hit hard by the news that Grimsley admitted to federal officials that he was a steroids, human growth hormone and amphetamine user.

Fasano, an Oriole in 2005, lived in a hotel last summer until Grimsley invited him to stay with him in his rented Baltimore-area house. When they went out to dinner, Grimsley routinely picked up the check.

"He saved me and my family," Fasano said. "I love him."

So Fasano was taken aback by the affidavit and Grimsley's accusations involving other players.

"Indicting other people? That's a tough thing to do," Fasano said. "But he's not a liar. He's a stand-up guy. What he says ... obviously, that's up to him. But he's going to tell you the truth."

Braves' free fall

Atlanta ace John Smoltz has repeatedly heard that it's just a matter of time before his scuffling club soars to the top of the division as it did in the previous 14 years. But, Smoltz said, this is a different National League East and a different Braves team.

"Last year, the Mets weren't the Mets and the Phillies weren't the Phillies," Smoltz told The Miami Herald. "I'm so sick of hearing that we'll turn it on or we've done it before. We haven't done it before under these circumstances with the teams that are in front of us."

Quick hits

Of the 10 times Florida's Miguel Cabrera has been intentionally walked, the next Marlins batter has gone 5-for-8 with two walks, two homers and 12 RBIs. ... The San Francisco Giants' Steve Kline pitched 10 1/3 scoreless innings over 11 games from May 15 to June 15.

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