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Baltimore Sun

Short-term solution at shortstop

Thanks to the reader who passed along the link to Richard Justice's blog for the Houston Chronicle. He's having a little fun at my expense, but mostly, it's at Astros owner Drayton McLane's expense.

My "sources" tell me that Justice, whom I've known for more years than I can count, and McLane aren't exactly on friendly terms. It's clear that his rant is tongue-in-cheek, but I'm sure that I'll have a bunch of angry e-mails from Astros fans waiting for me at roch.kubatko@baltsun.com. I can hardly wait to wade through them, my finger pressed firmly on the delete button, my blood pressure rising in small increments.

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I guess Richard figured that I needed a little busy work between chasing Orioles rumors and defending my blog photo.

I owe you one, pal.

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Be sure to check out Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec's story on the state of the Orioles' off-season, which already has been posted on our Web site.

Don't look for any big trades to be completed tomorrow, and we're inching dangerously close to the weekend. Does this mean the Orioles soon will be done talking to other clubs about  Erik Bedard or Brian Roberts, or will the last-week-of-January "deadline" be extended?

I'm starting to believe that the deadline isn't etched in stone.

If the Orioles can't acquire a shortstop in one of the blockbusters, they still could pursue a veteran as insurance in case Luis Hernandez isn't ready. It's fine to go through a rebuilding process, but team president Andy MacPhail doesn't want to expose his young players. He doesn't want Hernandez batting .050 in May and still getting four at-bats a night and losing more confidence with every swing. The idea isn't to humiliate a prospect.

Since the free-agent market on shortstops is weak, the Orioles could make a run at Juan Uribe or Jack Wilson, figuring they can be acquired in trade without having to give up much in return. Otherwise, MacPhail could sign Royce Clayton or Tony Graffanino – I told you it was a weak market – as a safety net for Hernandez.

Meanwhile, did anybody notice that the Pirates signed Jaret Wright to a minor league deal?

Unless the condition of his right shoulder took a serious turn for the better, Wright can't be expected to log many innings as a starter. And he'd need ample rest between relief appearances.

I don't see how this will work, but I wish him the best of luck. The man has a tremendous pain threshold. He's got guts.  He just doesn't have very much holding that shoulder together anymore.


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