Decision Time For O's, Draft Choice Givens



Club, 2nd-round Pick Likely To Finish Talks Before Monday

August 12, 2009|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,

The Orioles have until midnight Monday to sign their second-round pick, but the club and Florida prep shortstop Mychal Givens expect to have a resolution - one way or the other - before then.

"I think this thing will wrap up within the next 48 hours, but I have no idea where it is going," Orioles amateur scouting director Joe Jordan said Tuesday night. "We are trying to get something done, but I really don't know. I'd be guessing."

The two sides spoke again Monday and Jordan said a decision must be made in time for Givens to come to Baltimore on Friday for a physical. Club policy dictates that no signings are approved until medical clearance is received. The Orioles don't want to chance complications Monday, so if Givens isn't in Baltimore on Friday for a physical, it raises serious doubts about his future with the organization.

"Right now, I am still trying to talk over the contract, I won't know anything for a couple days," said Givens, selected 54th overall by the Orioles out of Plant High in Tampa, Fla. "It's now in Baltimore's hands. If they want me signed, they will do the job. I am just waiting on them and for their call."

Givens, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound shortstop, said he has spent the summer working out, fielding grounders and serving as a baseball instructor at a youth camp.

If he doesn't sign, Givens will accept a full baseball scholarship to Oklahoma State and won't be eligible for the draft again until June 2011, when he'll be 21.

"Both options are still up in the air," Givens said.

If the Orioles fail to sign Givens, they'll receive the sixth pick in 2010's second round, one spot behind where Givens was selected this year.

The club has signed, or is about to sign, eight of its other nine top 10 picks.

Two more became official Tuesday: Randy Henry, a right-handed pitcher selected in the fourth round out of South Mountain (Ariz.) Community College , signed for $365,000; and Ryan Berry, a Rice University right-hander selected in the ninth round, signed for $417,600, which is considered third-round money. Berry was thought to be difficult to sign when he was drafted 266th overall.

Fifth-round lefty Ashur Tolliver was in Baltimore on Tuesday and scheduled to take his physical today. The club also signed outfielder Brenden Webb, a 30th-round pick.

Uehara heads to Florida

Koji Uehara (partial tendon tear in elbow) is expected to go to Sarasota, Fla., today to begin a throwing program at the organization's minor league complex.

The club is hopeful he can return in September and pitch one-inning stints out of the bullpen, a difficult ending for someone signed in the offseason to be the club's No. 2 starter.

"It's been a bad season," said Uehara - who was 2-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 12 starts - through an interpreter. "If I could pitch according to my skills, I think I can compete well. But at the same time, I haven't been pitching."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley wouldn't commit to Uehara's role in 2010 but said he thinks the right-hander's injury woes were probably the most damaging blow to the Orioles this year.

"It's been the biggest one to fill because we counted on him being the guy that was going to go out there every fifth day and give us a chance to win," Trembley said. "Losing him really made some of the other guys come here earlier than perhaps we wanted them to. They've done a great job, but Koji's a winner. ... There was an expectation that we were going to win when he pitched and it's been tough filling that slot because we really counted on him."

How starters stack up

Of the 14 American League pitchers who started on Opening Day, only the Minnesota Twins' Francisco Liriano has put up worse numbers this season than the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie.

Liriano is 4-11 with a 5.63 ERA and 18 homers allowed; Guthrie is 7-12 with a 5.43 ERA while yielding 27 homers.

Despite his No. 1 pitcher's struggles, Trembley said he has no plans to remove Guthrie from the rotation.

"At this particular point in time, I don't know who his replacement would be," Trembley said. "He's a starting pitcher."

Around the horn

With a first-inning single Tuesday, right fielder Nick Markakis extended his streak of reaching base safely to 32 games, longest active in the majors. ... Catcher Chad Moeller, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, started for the first time since May 27.

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