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Ailing Van Slyke again may force roster shuffle


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With the Orioles returning from a disappointing 12-game road trip, manager Phil Regan, general manager Roland Hemond and assistant general manager Frank Robinson will meet today to discuss possible adjustments to their 25-man roster.

There could be several changes:

* Center fielder Andy Van Slyke has re-aggravated the strained forearm muscle in his left arm, and it's expected that he will be examined today by team doctors. If the Orioles place him on the disabled list for the second time this year, they may call up center fielder Curtis Goodwin from Triple-A Rochester.

Goodwin was hitting .276 with 16 stolen bases before last night's game against Charlotte. The pluses: He would inject some speed into the Orioles' lineup, and generally speaking, he's a good center fielder (his defense has been poor at times this season). The minuses: Goodwin has been inconsistent for Rochester, getting three hits one day and then going hitless the next two days. He had 11 walks in 34 games, very low for a singles hitter.

Goodwin would play on a regular basis and hit No. 2 or No. 9.

Van Slyke re-aggravated the muscle in Tuesday night's 5-4 victory over the California Angels, and did not play last night.

"We could use him as a pinch runner or for defense," Regan said before last night's game, "or possibly as a pinch hitter."

* The Orioles may consider bringing in another catcher from Triple-A, either Greg Zaun or Cesar Devarez. Backup catcher Matt Nokes is hitting .063 and is 0-for-8 throwing out runners. Despite Nokes' slow start, the Orioles probably won't release him because his recent history suggests he will hit eventually, but the Orioles may want a stronger defensive catcher to back up Chris Hoiles.

Devarez has thrown out 10 of 21 potential base stealers, and Zaun has thrown out five of 10.

* Infielder Manny Alexander needs to play to learn second base, if that's what the Orioles' plan is for him, and he's not playing. Alexander's role has been reduced to a late-inning pinch runner and defensive replacement.

"I'm happy to be here [in the big leagues]," Alexander said yesterday, "but I'm not happy not playing. . . . I hope one day I have a chance to play shortstop. I don't know when that's going to be.

"I want to have a chance to play. I don't know where or when. Nobody knows what will happen -- maybe I'll be with another team."

Some other clubs have expressed an interest in Alexander, and a trade is possible. The Orioles cannot demote him without exposing him to waivers, and it's very likely he would be claimed.

* If the Orioles add Goodwin, the role of Damon Buford would be reduced to that of a defensive replacement. Because Buford is hitting .063 and Nokes is struggling, the Orioles could promote a hot bat from Rochester -- like Mark Smith, who's batting .333.

* Armando Benitez has struggled, with 15 walks in 16 2/3 innings, and those kind of numbers normally merit a demotion. But thus far, Benitez has been used as a bridge from the middle relievers to closer Doug Jones. If the Orioles make a move involving any pitcher, John DeSilva is the most likely candidate for promotion at Rochester (4-3, 3.68 ERA).

Clemson OF eyed

The Orioles pick No. 21 in today's amateur draft, and baseball sources say that as of Tuesday night, they were leaning toward selecting Shane Monahan, an outfielder from Clemson University.

Monahan, a 20-year-old left-handed hitter, batted .394 for the Tigers, with 20 doubles, five triples and 12 homers, with 16 stolen bases. If not Monahan, the Orioles may pick left-handed pitcher David Yocum from Florida State, although Yocum (11-2, 2.42 ERA) is projected to go in the middle of the first round before the Orioles' turn comes up.

Mussina, O's closer in talks

The agent for pitcher Mike Mussina gave another counterproposal to the Orioles on Tuesday, narrowing the gap between the two sides to slightly less than $2 million on a three-year contract (with an option for a fourth year). Mussina's original request was for $13.5 million, and the team's original offer was $8.25 million.


Orioles public address announcer Rex Barney will miss the coming homestand after suffering a mild heart attack last week. Barney, 70, the Orioles' PA announcer since the early 1970s, was admitted to Sinai Hospital on Saturday. The Orioles are considering replacing Barney with a rotation of local celebrities and broadcasters.

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