Roch around the clock

ROCH AROUND THE CLOCK

The Kickoff

November 07, 2006|By ROCH KUBATKO

You may kid about the "importance" of the Orioles' Luis Montanez signing, but keep in mind that no team can pursue a major league free agent at this time. It's sign minor league guys or do nothing. And if the Orioles weren't doing anything, they'd be getting ripped all over the place.

Each year, they sign these six-year free agents and invite them to spring training. Some of them turn out to be over-hyped (Franklyn Gracesqui). Some bring no hype (Luis Lopez).

In the case of Montanez, there's no risk in signing a guy who was the third overall pick in the 2000 draft. Players are needed to fill out the minor league rosters.

Montanez likely will start out at Triple-A Norfolk. That's the worst-case scenario. Nothing wrong with that. I'd rather see a guy like Montanez in camp, competing for a job, than a retread on the downside of his career.

Or someone like Richard Hidalgo, who can't decide whether he wants to play in the majors or Japan.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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