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  Sun, September 19, 2004


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O's a match for Delgado
BALTIMORE HAS THE NEED AND THE CASH FOR SOON-TO-BE FREE AGENT SLUGGER
By BOB ELLIOTT, TORONTO SUN

Toronto Blue Jays' Carlos Delgado runs the bases following his 30th homer of the season with teammate Vernon Wells during first-inning AL action against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' in Toronto on Friday, September, 17, 2004. Wells scored on the play. (CP PHOTO/J.P. Moczulski)

ORIOLES A MATCH FOR DELGADO: BALTIMORE HAS THE NEED AND THE CASH FOR SOON-TO-BE FREE AGENT SLUGGER

WILL BOOG'S Barbecue serve Delgado dawgs in 2005?

Will patrons of Boog's need to wear hard hats?

Will the brick warehouse behind right field at Camden Yards be pummelled with baseballs?

Well, as Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado heads to free agency, he must look for a team with a need and a team with some dollars to spend.

The Baltimore Orioles both have a need and money. And they have an outstanding barbecue in right field operated by former Orioles first baseman Boog Powell.

First the need. They added free-agent hitters Javy Lopez, Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro this previous winter.

Yet, management is doing everything it can to ensure Palmeiro does not reach 140 games in the field, which will trigger a $4.5-million US option for 2005.

After being well on his way to reaching the plateau, the O's have slowed things down. Palmeiro needs to play at first base in 15 of Baltimore's final 16 games.

He's hitting under .200 against lefties.

And the O's have the money.

David Segui, who came to Baltimore on a four-year deal worth $28 million by Syd Thrift -- and you thought Delgado was overpaid -- won't be re-signed. He earned $7 million.

And Marty Cordova's $3.5-million deal will be off the books. Cordova has been hurt all season.

So, that's $15 million the O's have to spend. And they won't be moving right fielder Jay Gibbons to first base. In fact, they might non-tender him a contract.

We would say the Orioles are the September leaders in the chase for Delgado.

The New York Yankees, the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Texas Rangers, the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago White Sox, the Seattle Mariners, the Montreal/Washington Expos and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are other possibilities.

Of course, the Jays say that they are players in retaining their most productive player.

BAY WATCH

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., is battling shortstop Khalil Greene of the San Diego Padres for the NL rookie of the year.

Greene is expected to miss the rest of the regular season because of a broken right index finger. His errors (10th), fielding percentage (10th) and range factor (10th) are near the bottom in all three categories.

Bay, who was traded from San Diego to Pittsburgh last season, entered the lineup when he reported to the Pirates and hit .291 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 27 games in 2003. That was enough to ensure he would be the Pirates' left fielder this season.

Bay hit a roadblock in the off-season. A shoulder injury he suffered during the last week of last season failed to improve and he had arthroscopic surgery in November.

That caused Bay to miss the first month of this season and lowered his expectations.

Bay entered play last night hitting .294 with 23 homers and 72 RBIs in 105 games.

BAVASI FIGHTS TO THE END

SEATTLE MARINERS general manager Bill Bavasi insists the club will be competitive to the end, fielding its best lineup possible -- for a personal reason.

"I've seen and felt what can happen when someone isn't (competitive),'' he said. "It isn't a good feeling."

Bavasi's memory -- GMs are like elephants -- was of the final day of the 1995 regular season when he was with the Anaheim Angels, who beat the Oakland A's to force a playoff.

"Kenny Rogers coming back on three days to face Seattle in Texas because he wanted to play a part in the pennant race, that's the right way," Bavasi said. "Toronto played the Yanks, with the wild- card spot up for grabs. The Jays played an entire lineup of kids and bench guys."

Bavasi remembers New York winning the televised game, and seeing "Paul Beeston and George Steinbrenner hugging."

"I think to that," Bavasi said, "and it makes me appreciate the idea of being competitive against teams still in races."

Pat Hentgen started for the Blue Jays the day of the Steinbrenner-Beeston televised hug, while regulars Paul Molitor, Joe Carter, John Olerud, Ed Sprague and Alex Gonzalez also were in the starting lineup in a 6-1 loss as the Yanks clinched the wild-card spot.

However, centre fielder Mike Huff, right fielder Robert Perez, second baseman Tomas Perez and catcher Randy Knorr also were in the lineup that day.

DRINK AND DRIVE

Catcher Curtis Thigpen, the Jays' second-round pick this June out of the University of Texas, was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

Thigpen posted a $500 US cash bond for investigation of DWI at 12:15 p.m. Friday and was released from custody.

Matt Bush, a high schooler selected first overall by the San Diego Padres, was arrested and charged with under-age drinking upon his arrival in Arizona.

Some Jays officials stated that it provided yet another reason to select only collegians.

Thigpen was noticed driving a 1997 Ford pickup south on Interstate 45, travelling 20 miles under the 60-m.p.h. speed limit and weaving within a lane of traffic, according to reports.

The arresting deputy noted that Thigpen had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol.

Thigpen, who received a $625,000 bonus, hit .301 with seven homers and had 29 RBIs for the class-A Auburn Doubledays in 2004.

BULLPEN LET DOWN THE JAYS

WHILE A LACK of hitting has been blamed for the Jays' worst record in a non-strike year since 1979, relief pitching also has factored into the equation.

The Jays bullpen has the worst winning percentage in the majors.

Jays relievers are 14-32 (.304). Next worse are the Colorado Rockies at 17-32 (.432).

ON THE MOVE

When the Jays moved their affiliate in the class-A South Atlantic League from Hagerstown to Charleston, W.Va., they moved into a stadium Baseball Weekly voted as the worst in the minor leagues.

Now that the city has a new $23-million US stadium, replacing 55-year-old Watt Powell Park, the Jays' agreement ended and the Milwaukee Brewers are the new tenants.

The Brewers left class-A Beloit after a 23-year affiliation. The Jays have signed an agreement with Lansing, Mich., home of the Lugnuts of the class-A Midwest League.

O CANADA

Catcher Chris Valeriote of Guelph is one of six Team Ontario players added to the Canadian National Junior team that heads to Orlando this month. The others, who all played for coach Peter Bargenda in 2004, are Toronto shortstop Jeff Cowan, Mississauga outfielder Branson Joseph, Burlington catcher Morgan Kielty, Pickering lefty Mike Wilson and first baseman Nick Weglarz of Stevensville. Since 2001, national coach Greg Hamilton has selected 37 Team Ontario players.

ONE OF THE BEST

They will pay tribute to Ted Beare, long-time sports editor of The Brantford Expositor, next month and it's a can't-miss event for the thousands of lives he has touched. The event takes place in Brantford on Oct. 7 at the Petofi Hungarian Cultural Club, with proceeds going to the Arnold Anderson KidSport Fund. Tickets are $50 each and can be obtained by contacting Stan Worosz either by phone (519-752-3392) or by e-mail (sworosz@rogers.com) before Sept. 29.

EX-BLUE JAY OF THE WEEK: BRUCE CHEN

OFTEN, THE ex-Jay of the week earns his honours two or three time zones away.

Lefty Bruce Chen of the Baltimore Orioles won his first decision in more than two years, going the distance against the Jays in a 9-1 win on Monday at the SkyDome.

The Jays never brought Chen, who was with Toronto this spring, to the majors. Instead, they kept him at triple-A Syracuse until Chen ran up an 8.71 ERA in three starts.

Pitching for his ninth organization, Chen hadn't won as a starter since Aug. 29, 2001 with the New York Mets. His previous victory came against the Mets on April 21, 2002 when he came on in relief for the Montreal Expos.

"I know some of the guys with the Jays and I don't hold anything against them," he said. "I just wanted to get my first win in such a long time."