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Making a pre-FanFest move and other Orioles notes (Burnett, Hammel, Machado and a Tom Glavine connection)

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Wednesday that he is still attempting to land a starter to improve the club’s rotation.

The winter isn’t over yet, he points out. There are several pitchers who intrigue the Orioles – you know the list – and he’s trying to get the right fit for what the club believes is the right dollars.

My question to Duquette was whether it was important to have someone new in the fold by Saturday’s FanFest. After all, this has not been a banner offseason for the Orioles, and the fan base, understandably, is growing increasingly annoyed with the lack of a marquee move.

Duquette said the important thing is getting the right player and improving the team in necessary areas. Typical stuff.

But then he added this nugget about having a noteworthy new addition by Saturday: “It would be nice.”

The sense that I am getting about the Orioles’ pitching targets is that nothing appears imminent on any of those fronts. But I will say Duquette’s pretty good at keeping those cards close to the vest.

** I also asked Duquette about how Tuesday’s report that A.J. Burnett wants to pitch another year and may do so away from Pittsburgh affects Duquette’s plans. Obviously, the Orioles want a veteran starter and don’t want to commit long-term. And the 37-year-old Burnett, a Monkton resident, wouldn’t tie up payroll for years to come.

This is going to surprise you (I kid), but Duquette chose his words carefully in responding to the question.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to boost the pitching staff between now and when we open,” Duquette said. “And we’ll have to look at all of the people that are available to us.”

Not a whole lot of lines to read between there, but I think it is fair to reiterate what we have all speculated. This is a guy the Orioles want. Now whether they can seal the deal is the real question.

** One free agent we haven’t heard a lot about is right-hander Jason Hammel, who was the club’s 2013 Opening Day starter. I was told at the beginning of the offseason that if the winter was dragging on, the Orioles still had pitching holes and Hammel didn’t have a job, that a reunion might be considered.

Well, all those things have occurred. And I’ve been told there is still some mutual interest between the two sides in re-signing Hammel. I’m also getting the sense, though, that it probably won’t happen.

I’ve been told there are a handful of teams that have shown legitimate interest in Hammel – the Orioles are considered to be one -- and he is closing in on a decision. However, since the Orioles don’t have a guaranteed spot in the rotation for Hammel – especially if they sign someone else – you’d think he’d go elsewhere because he’s always preferred starting over relieving.

 ** There was some concern earlier this month that Manny Machado was not going to be able to make FanFest because the earliest follow-up appointment he could get with the Los Angeles surgeon that operated on his knee was on Saturday.

Well, apparently it took some maneuvering, but Machado’s appointment was moved up to Friday afternoon. That means it will take a couple of cross-country flights in a short period to get him to California and back in order to sign autographs and pose for pictures on Saturday at the Convention Center.

But Machado is a huge part of this team. I’m sure he wanted to be there and I know the Orioles didn’t want to have a fan event without one of the team’s biggest fan favorites.

** When a player makes the Hall of Fame, obviously he’s had a lot of help along the way. Oftentimes, great players give credit to the scouts that discovered them. What I didn’t realize until a friend pointed it out recently is that the guy who scouted and signed left-hander Tom Glavine out of a high school in Billerica, Mass., has a significant tie to the Orioles.

Tony DeMacio was in his first full year as an Atlanta Braves area scout in New England when he recommended Glavine, whom the Braves took in the second round in 1984 (and was voted in to the Hall of Fame in January).

DeMacio, who now is the director of scouting for the Braves, spent six years in that position for the Orioles from 1999-2004. His tenure in Baltimore will always be blemished by the 1999 draft, his first, when the club had seven picks in the first 50 and yielded just one lasting big leaguer, Brian Roberts.

But DeMacio also was in charge when the club drafted Nick Markakis, Jim Johnson and Erik Bedard, among others. And he is one of the nicer men you’ll ever meet. So it’s easy to be happy for him that one of the players that he recommended and signed so long ago is now headed to Cooperstown.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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