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Jose Guillen is looking for $30 million over three years. He wears steroid allegations like a uniform jersey, with the hGH links a nice accessory. He’s been a headache for more than one manager because of his anger-management issues. He has a short fuse and a shorter shelf life. And ESPN Deportes has the Orioles in the running to sign him.
They must want him in left field – the same place where this rumor came from.

Don’t be shocked if it’s a figment of someone’s imagination.

Guillen, based only on his tools, would be a tremendous upgrade over Jay Payton. The guy hits for average and power, and he has a cannon for an arm. But it would take 27 bellhops to handle all his baggage, and they’d each have to make two trips.

This doesn’t sound like Andy MacPhail’s kind of guy, but it’s worth looking into. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Thanks to the reader who sent along an article from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that reports on the Twins signing a few familiar names to minor league deals.

Yes, Howie Clark has resurfaced. He played for the Rochester Red Wings from 1998-2000 and again in 2002 while they served as the Orioles’ top affiliate. He’s going to be wearing their uniform again, unless he manages to make the Twins out of spring training.

The Twins also signed catcher Eli Whiteside and outfielder Jon Knott.

It won’t be spring training for me without seeing Whiteside sitting at his locker on catchers row, his gray hair making him appear much older. He never had a shot at making the roster, and he symbolized the lack of catching talent in the system, because the Orioles didn’t have anyone considerably better in the minors before drafting Matt Wieters this year. (I don’t count Brandon Snyder, since he’s destined to be a corner infielder/DH).

Whiteside actually ranked as a prospect at one time, which, again, said more about the sorry state of the Orioles’ system than it did his ability.

Nice guy. Decent arm. That’s about it. But we’ll wish him luck in Rochester.

I mentioned Steve Bechler in a previous post. Sean Taylor’s death brings back such horrible memories of the 2003 spring training. I watched Bechler being rushed into the clubhouse after collapsing during a workout. I saw him having a seizure in the training room as the medical staff attended to him and waited for an ambulance to arrive. Reporters were ushered outside, and we watched from beyond the back entrance as Bechler was carried away on a stretcher.

We braced for the worst. I remember telling an editor late that night, after The Sun’s deadline had passed, that I’d be writing an obit in the morning.

It still gives me a chill when I recall former manager Mike Hargrove, standing on one of the back fields, abruptly ending the next day’s workout and signaling his players into the clubhouse. He placed an arm around pitcher Matt Riley, Bechler’s closest friend on the team. We knew at that moment that Bechler had died.

I had seen Bechler over the winter at a holiday gathering, and he teased me about carrying a beer in each hand. I explained that one of them belonged to a friend, but he wasn’t buying my story. We shook hands and spoke again on the first day that pitchers and catchers reported to camp. We already began to form a bond after the Orioles called him up to the majors, and it was getting stronger. I covered the minor leagues and had interviewed him in the past. He seemed comfortable with me. He was going to be one of my go-to guys, someone I’d look forward to seeing each year.

He was a decent, humble young man who wanted to stay in the majors so badly that he was willing to do anything to get in shape and impress the coaching staff.

I never could accept that he was gone. It was all so sudden, so senseless, so tragic. And the memory still haunts me to this day – especially now.

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