Former O's GM Pat Gillick to be part of 2011 Hall of Fame class

Club has had 'multiple conversations' with free-agent relievers

December 06, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The 2011 Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., will have some Orioles flavor, regardless of whether former players Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro are enshrined.

Pat Gillick the Orioles' general manager from 1996 to 1998 and the architect of the 1997 team that lost to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, was selected by the Baseball Hall of Fame's Expansion Era Committee for 2011 induction.

The only one selected by the committee, he beat out the likes of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and former players union executive Marvin Miller.

"I can't tell you what an honor this is," said Gillick, who led the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies to world championships and also was the GM for the Seattle Mariners. "It's really on behalf of all the people I worked with over the years; that's who I feel the honor is for."

Gillick received 13 of 16 votes from a 16-person committee; he needed 12. Miller finished one vote short. Former big league shortstop Dave Concepcion was next with eight votes.

The Orioles were well-represented on the voting panel, which included president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer.

Looking for relief

With Monday's trade of David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio to the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Mark Reynolds, the Orioles' bullpen options became even more depleted.

Koji Uehara and Mark Hendrickson are free agents, and Matt Albers was recently non-tendered, leaving the Orioles with eight relievers on their 40-man roster. The majority of that group — Michael Gonzalez, Jim Hoey, Jim Johnson, Luis Lebron, Troy Patton and Alfredo Simon — has dealt with serious injury within the past two years.

Of the remaining two, Rick VandenHurk is out of options next spring and Pedro Viola pitched in only two games for the Orioles last season.

MacPhail said bolstering the bullpen is a priority and he has had "multiple conversations" with relievers in a deep free-agent class. Those the Orioles have contacted include Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Bobby Jenks, Kevin Gregg and former Oriole George Sherrill.

"You have to take what the market gives you," MacPhail said. "And I think there is a greater supply of [relief pitching] out there, perhaps [more] than anything on the market right now."

The Orioles would like to bring back Uehara, who ended the season as the club's closer. The team initially did not want to give him more than a one-year deal, but that could change now that the bullpen has been weakened by the Reynolds trade.

The Orioles remain the favorite to sign Uehara, but other teams that reportedly have expressed interest in the right-hander include the Mariners, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

A hole at first

Although he can play first base, Reynolds is more comfortable at third and is expected to be the club's everyday third baseman in 2011, meaning the Orioles are still in the market for someone to play first.

They maintain interest in free agents Adam LaRoche, Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee and have had discussions about Washington Nationals left fielder Josh Willingham, who has played first base sparingly in his career.

MacPhail said the Reynolds acquisition did not preclude the team from re-signing corner infielder Ty Wigginton.

"I wouldn't say that eliminates him," MacPhail said about Wigginton. "Less playing time at third is a likely possibility, but it certainly doesn't eliminate him."

Murray on Palmeiro

Murray is one of four players in baseball history to have at least 500 homers and 3,000 hits. The others are Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and Palmeiro, who is on the ballot for the first time this year.

At the Swan and Dolphin Resort on Monday, Murray was asked about his thoughts on the Hall candidacy of Palmeiro — his 1996 Orioles teammate who failed a drug test in 2005.

"I don't think a whole lot about it," Murray said. "That's something I am not in charge of and don't waste time with."

He did acknowledge, however, the exclusive club they are in.

"You've only got four people to do it," Murray said. "You see how difficult it is."

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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