CLEVELAND -- Jeff Manto, who didn't have a position or even a major-league job when the season opened, is headed for the Hall of Fame.
Or at least the bat that he used to hit five homers in three days last weekend is going to Cooperstown, N.Y. A representative from the Hall of Fame called Orioles media relations director John Maroon yesterday to ask that Manto's bat be sent to the Hall for enshrinement.
Manto actually cracked the bat fouling a ball off against the Cleveland Indians' Charles Nagy on Monday night, but that's still good enough for the Hall of Fame.
"You talk about a dream come true," Manto said. "Getting into the Hall of Fame, though, would be a little too much to ask."
Pursuit of No. 4 starter cools
The Orioles have called around the league trying to piece together a deal for a No. 4 starter, such as Detroit's David Wells, Houston's Doug Drabek or Florida's David Weathers. But in each case, club sources say, the asking price -- some of the Orioles' top prospects -- has been too much for them to consider. For now, the pursuit seems dead.
The Orioles had held off trading left-hander Brad Pennington earlier this week, hoping to include him in any package deal for a No. 4 starter. But because they designated Pennington for assignment June 8, they must trade him within the next four days or pass him through waivers; if they choose the latter course of action, he almost certainly will be claimed by another team for $20,000.
"We're looking at offers," said assistant general manager Frank Robinson.
There has been some discussion within the organization about trying to make a deal for Houston second baseman Craig Biggio. But that's unlikely because the Orioles would have to fork over lots of prospects, as well as absorb Biggio's $4 million salary.
Fernandez headed to Baysox
Left-hander Sid Fernandez, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle under his left collarbone, will begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Bowie tomorrow.
Robinson said there's no predetermined number of starts for Fernandez in the minors. "The main thing for him is to go down and get some innings in," Robinson said.
The Orioles could leave Fernandez in the minors for as many as 30 days, the maximum allowed for rehabilitation assignments.
Around the horn
Outfielder Andy Van Slyke, 0-for-2 last night for Single-A Frederick, will be activated tomorrow, and the Orioles likely will send catcher Cesar Devarez or a pitcher (Scott Klingenbeck) back to the minors. . . . It's possible that if Arthur Rhodes pitches well for Triple-A Rochester tonight, he could be promoted to pitch against the Yankees on Tuesday night. . . . The Orioles signed their ninth-round pick from the draft, outfielder Joel Stephens from Notre Dame High in New York. They are expected to meet again with No. 1 pick Alvie Shepherd, a pitcher from the University of Nebraska, today or tomorrow. They also signed three nondrafted players: right-handed pitcher Gary White, from the University of South Carolina at Aiken; right-handed pitcher Matt Snyder of Essex Community College; and center fielder Joe Higman of James Madison University. . . . When scoring three runs or fewer this year, the Orioles are 2-17. They aren't much for coming back, either. The Orioles are 1-19 when trailing after six innings and 1-22 when trailing after eight.