TORONTO - -Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and Danys Baez, three veterans in the final guaranteed years of their contracts, have cleared waivers, according to league sources, meaning they can be traded to any club if the Orioles find a suitor.
The two infielders and the reliever clearing waivers isn't at all surprising as the Orioles didn't find much interest in any of the veterans before last month's nonwaiver trade deadline. All three have struggled at times this season and are still owed a decent chunk of money for the rest of the season.
Mora, who is hitting .254 with three homers and 29 RBIs, is still owed about $2.7 million. Huff (.255 average, 12 homers, 68 RBIs) is due approximately $2.4 million while Baez (4.33 ERA) will make an additional $1.8 million, plus a $500,000 assignment bonus if he is traded.
The Orioles would probably be willing to absorb some of the remaining money if they found an interested team, as Mora and Baez almost certainly won't return next year and Huff's recent offensive struggles have increased the chances that he won't be back. The Detroit Tigers showed some interest in Huff earlier this season.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail declined to comment when asked about his players clearing waivers. Teams have to pass players through revocable waivers if they want to move them after the July 31 trade deadline.
If a player gets claimed, a team can pull him off waivers, give the claiming team that player and the rest of his contract, or work out a trade with the claiming team for the player.
Player to be named soon
MacPhail said that he expects to finalize the deal that sent catcher Gregg Zaun to the Tampa Bay Rays via a waiver claim early this week. As part of Friday's deal, the Orioles will get a player to be named, but that player hasn't been determined, largely because of the amount of roster juggling the Rays have done lately.
In the past couple of days, the Rays have designated pitchers John Meloan and R.J. Swindle, infielder Joe Dillon and catcher Michel Hernandez for assignment.
"There are some moving pieces," MacPhail said. "We might just let the waiver period sort out or we might just agree to a name. There are a couple of names that we've talked about."
Tillman, Roberts sore
A day after attributing his decreased fastball velocity to feeling "drained" and not being able to get loose, Orioles rookie starter Chris Tillman was walking around with a noticeable limp as a result of a sore groin. Tillman was sidelined with a groin injury when he was at Triple-A Norfolk earlier this season, but he said he doesn't expect to miss his next Orioles start.
"I think that's the reason I was down velocity," Tillman said. "Just because it was sore, I was afraid to push. I didn't want to hurt it, and at the same time I didn't want to do too much with my arm to make up for it. Obviously, I missed the start earlier in the year from it, but I definitely think I'm making my next start. It's just sore today."
Second baseman Brian Roberts also was held out of the Orioles' lineup after he fouled a ball off his left shin in Saturday's loss. X-rays were negative, and Roberts told Dave Trembley he would like to play, but the manager thought it would be beneficial to give him the day off. Roberts will likely be back in the lineup tonight.
"It actually feels better than I was expecting," Roberts said. "It's not too bad right now."
Patton to be skipped
Orioles pitching prospect Troy Patton's next start for Norfolk will be skipped, but the organization has no immediate plans to shut him down for the rest of the season, MacPhail said.
Patton, who missed all last season after having surgery on his left shoulder, is 1-3 with a 6.45 ERA in nine starts for Norfolk after going 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 11 starts for Double-A Bowie. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his last start for the Tides, surrendering six earned runs.
"We're going to probably skip him a start and give him a little bit of a health break," MacPhail said. "We're not unhappy with his progress this year. We're delighted he's healthy, pleased with his progress and not terribly surprised by the results."
Around the horn
With his sixth-inning single, Nick Markakis reached base for the 30th consecutive game. It's the longest current streak in the majors. ... After grounding into three double plays Sunday, the Orioles have hit into 16 in their past 11 games. ... Trembley said he would have liked to avoid using Baez for multiple innings but the number of outs he has needed from his bullpen lately have forced his hand. ... The Orioles signed veteran outfielder Freddy Guzman to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. ... Third base prospect Josh Bell, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade, hit his first home run for Double-A Bowie on Sunday.