2 more with O's are questioned

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

VP Duquette, Mazzone speak with drug probe investigators

June 23, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER AND DAVID SELIG | CHILDS WALKER AND DAVID SELIG,SUN REPORTERS

Investigators from former Sen. George Mitchell's baseball drug probe questioned Orioles officials for a second day yesterday.

Investigators spoke with vice president Jim Duquette and pitching coach Leo Mazzone, neither of whom was with the team last season, when Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids and Jason Grimsley claims to have used human growth hormone.

Duquette and Mazzone declined to comment, saying that baseball officials have asked all those interviewed not to discuss the sessions. Mitchell was out of the country and unavailable to comment, and a deputy did not return a call seeking a comment.

Mazzone and Duquette met with investigators for several hours at the downtown law offices of Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Manager Sam Perlozzo, executive vice president Mike Flanagan and minor league director David Stockstill sat for similar interviews on Wednesday. All interviews were conducted in the presence of Orioles general counsel Russell Smouse.

Mitchell's representatives are expected to question on- and off-field representatives for all 30 teams. They met with Minnesota Twins personnel and are now expected to move on to the San Francisco Giants.

They are conducting the investigation on performance-enhancing drugs at the request of commissioner Bud Selig. Mitchell's investigators do not have subpoena power, so they can only ask subjects to cooperate.

R. Ortiz a possibility

The Orioles likely will show interest in veteran right-hander Russ Ortiz once he becomes a free agent today. The Arizona Diamondbacks released Ortiz last week, because he had been grossly ineffective since signing a four-year deal before last season.

Ortiz posted his only 20-win season under Leo Mazzone's tutelage in Atlanta. His agent, John Boggs, said he expects significant league-wide interest in the pitcher.

"I would like to think there is going to be a lot of interest. We're talking about an established pitcher here," Boggs said. "We're looking for a team that shows confidence in Russ and can give him an opportunity."

Boggs said Ortiz's familiarity with Mazzone can only help the Orioles' cause.

"Leo knows Russ and knows what he is capable of," he said. "In the case of Baltimore, it could be a perfect situation because he knows Leo. You go back to people you believe in. He's just trying to find the best place where he can be the pitcher he knows he is capable of being."

The 32-year-old right-hander signed a $33 million deal with Arizona but 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, who still owe Ortiz about $22 million.

California dreaming

Despite rumors that the Los Angeles Angels are interested in Miguel Tejada, a high-ranking Orioles official said a midseason deal is unlikely.

The official said no Oriole is off-limits but that a team would have to offer front-line major league talent to obtain a player of Tejada's stature. Such deals are generally hard to construct during the season, the official said.

Around the horn

Former Orioles first base coach Dave Cash has accepted a coaching position with the Rookie-level Bluefield Orioles. Cash was reassigned two weeks ago as part of a shake-up of the major league coaching staff. He will work with the infielders in Bluefield. ... Infielder Chris Gomez (broken left hand) said he expects to be cleared to take batting practice today. Gomez is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list the first game after the All-Star break. ... The Orioles signed their third-round pick, high school left-hander Zachary Britton, and have now signed 16 of their 51 picks from this year's draft.

childs.walker@baltsun.com david.selig@baltsun.com

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