Center fielder Patterson likely finished as Oriole

Inside Pitches

December 04, 2007|By DAN CONNOLLY AND JEFF ZREBIEC | DAN CONNOLLY AND JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Orioles center fielder Corey Patterson has had this feeling before. After a miserable 2005 season with the Chicago Cubs, Patterson fully expected to be traded. However, it took until January 2006 before Patterson was sent to Baltimore.

Now, as a free agent, Patterson, whom the Orioles acquired from Chicago for two minor leaguers, is again waiting for interest to develop. Most of the free-agent talk has focused on other available center fielders, such as Andruw Jones, Aaron Rowand and Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome, and not Patterson, 28.

"It doesn't make me nervous at all," Patterson said by phone from his Atlanta home yesterday. He missed the last 24 games of the season with a sprained left ankle, but said he is fully recovered.

"I'm a good player. I know what I can do for a team," he said. "Right now, it's a gray area. I can't say what's going to happen or what's not going to happen, but I know there are a handful of teams out there looking for an outfielder or, specifically, a center fielder."

The Orioles did not offer arbitration to Patterson, who hit .269 last season with eight home runs, 45 RBIs and 37 steals, so it is likely his tenure with the club is over.

Patterson, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, said that he hasn't heard from the Orioles this offseason. Asked whether he would take a one-year deal to return to the club, Patterson said it was too early to tell.

"I'm open to any team out there," he said. "It doesn't really matter. I know I'll be playing somewhere. I'll know more once I get a better understanding of my options."

Weaver bleeds with O's -- Earl Weaver, the Hall of Fame manager who led the Orioles to four World Series appearances, said it sickens him to think about his former club losing for 10 consecutive seasons. "Don't talk about it," said Weaver, who was at baseball's winter meetings as a member of the veterans selection committee for the Hall of Fame. "It hurts. It just hurts. And what can I do to help? I don't know. I can't do nothing. I'd like to do something. Maybe I'll talk to Mr. MacPhail." Weaver said he thinks the June addition of Andy MacPhail as club president should help. Weaver knew MacPhail's father, Lee, and grandfather, Larry, both of whom are enshrined in Cooperstown with Weaver. "Streets are named after Larry and Lee in Baltimore, so I think [MacPhail's hiring] is a good thing," said Weaver, 77, who lives in Florida and usually visits the team during spring training. "And I pray that it works out and we start winning some games."

Orioles sign Quiroz -- With Ramon Hernandez as the only catcher on the big league roster, the club signed reserve Guillermo Quiroz, 26, to a major league deal yesterday. Quiroz, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound Venezuelan, had four hits in 10 at-bats with the Rangers in 2007 and is a career .220 hitter in parts of four big league seasons. He hit six homers and had 33 RBIs in 71 games in Triple-A in 2007. Quiroz was once a highly regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' system, but health problems, including two collapsed lungs, temporarily derailed his career. His signing brings the Orioles 40-man roster to 37.

Around the horn -- Among those mingling around the Gaylord Opryland Hotel yesterday were former Orioles outfielder Steve Finley, who is looking for a job after being released midseason by Colorado, and former NFL running back Jerome Bettis. ... Tom Giordano, special assignment scout for the Rangers and the former Orioles player development and scouting director who drafted Cal Ripken Jr., was named East Coast Scout of the Year by his peers. Giordano, 82, will receive the award tomorrow.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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