The Orioles are attempting to trade second baseman Bret Barberie to the San Diego Padres, a move that would clear the way for them to add a strong defensive player at that position -- like Billy Ripken.
Sources say the Padres have some interest in the switch-hitter, but want the Orioles to pick up most, if not all, of Barberie's '95 salary of $958,750. The Padres, who reached .500 for the first time in two years last week and are challenging for the NL West lead, want to upgrade their bench, and Barberie could be used to spell Jody Reed at second base and Scott Livingstone at third.
The Padres would like to include Triple-A pitcher Tim Mauser, who started the year in San Diego, in any trade, in order to pare the $190,000 they are obligated to pay him for the rest of this season.
Orioles executives have talked about dealing for Ripken, playing Triple-A in the Cleveland organization, but won't as long as they have Barberie.
McDonald status unclear
Pitcher Ben McDonald had a shot of cortisone, which is used to reduce inflammation, in the back of his sore right shoulder Monday, and the Orioles aren't sure when he'll pitch next. Manager Phil Regan hoped McDonald would pitch Saturday's game against Boston, but McDonald said yesterday he didn't think he'd be able to start by then.
"We're just hoping that I won't have to miss that much time," said McDonald, who was to be examined by a team doctor last night.
Regan said he'd like McDonald to pitch Saturday or Sunday against the Red Sox, but acknowledged that he really wouldn't know when McDonald would be ready. "We're hoping he misses just this one start," Regan said.
If McDonald, who said he's been bothered by shoulder stiffness to some degree in his last "three or four starts," doesn't improve, the Orioles could consider placing him on the disabled list, retroactive to June 16. He would be eligible to be activated July 2.
Showalter, Strawberry chat
Yankees manager Buck Showalter called Darryl Strawberry yesterday and talked to the outfielder, signed by New York on Monday, for about 10 minutes.
"We talked about a lot of things," Showalter said. "We wanted to make sure he's ready to play before he came here. He's upbeat and appreciative of the opportunity.
"I think he understands the ball's in his court now. He understands there can be no more backcourt violations."
Alexander: Benitez upbeat
The local phone company is having a big week: Sunday night, Orioles second baseman Manny Alexander called Armando Benitez, who is playing for Triple-A Rochester.
Benitez pitched for the Orioles until June 7, when he packed up his locker after allowing a grand slam to Seattle's Edgar Martinez and then hitting Tino Martinez with his next pitch. Benitez told teammates he was going home, to the Dominican Republic.
The next morning, he was demoted to Rochester, where he hasn't allowed a hit or a run in 7 2/3 innings, and has two walks and 14 strikeouts. Alexander said yesterday that he didn't think Benitez had been ready emotionally to start the year with the Orioles, but he's sure that the right-hander will be back soon. "He's been in Triple-A for a while," Alexander said, "and when he comes back, I think he'll be better.
"He's calmed down. He's feels more confident, and he's throwing strikes."
Who's on first, Buck?
Showalter, the AL manager for the '95 All-Star Game, quizzed some of the New York writers yesterday, asking for their input on All-Star selections. One of the toughest decisions, Showalter indicated, would be choosing first basemen, what with Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, et al.
"What about that guy over there?" Showalter said, referring to Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.
Rhodes sweats one out
Pitching in the first real muggy night of the season Tuesday, left-hander Arthur Rhodes had an awful time keeping his left hand free of perspiration. Between pitches, he would wipe his arms on any dry part of his uniform that he could find.
Rhodes said he tried wearing an undershirt earlier in his career, but that would become so saturated that he felt weighed down. "I've got to try something else," said Rhodes, who tried, unsuccessfully, to dry the sweat by dusting his hands with rosin.
Orioles pitching coach Mike Flanagan said he, too, would pitch with sweat dripping down his arms.
"Forget about it," Flanagan said.
The next time Rhodes pitches, Regan said he may use Greg Zaun as catcher because the two worked well together at Triple-A Rochester.
Around the horn
New York left-hander Jimmy Key, coming back from shoulder problems, threw 35 to 40 pitches off a mound in Tampa, Fla., yesterday, and felt minimal discomfort, Showalter said. The manager said he hopes Key or Scott Kamieniecki or both will be back in the rotation shortly after the All-Star break. . . . The Orioles were close to signing their fourth-round pick from the amateur draft, Louis Fisher, a right-handed pitcher from Fremont (Calif.) High. The Orioles still are negotiating with their picks from the first three rounds, including No. 1 Alvie Shepherd, a right-hander from the University of Nebraska. . . . Left-hander Sid Fernandez will make his second rehabilitation start for Double-A Bowie tomorrow night, and Regan said he'd like to see Fernandez throw seven or eight innings. Regan said he isn't sure when Fernandez will be activated, but he could remain in the minors until July 15, if the Orioles so choose. . . . The Orioles Wives Food Drive is scheduled for Saturday. Fans are asked to bring canned or nonperishable food to Oriole Park, donations that will be distributed to needy families in the area.
O'S PASS A MILLION
Last night the Orioles surpassed 1 million in attendance, drawing 46,356 for their third sellout of the season. They also became the fastest team to hit the million mark in the league, reaching it in their 25th home game. Toronto did it in 26 and Cleveland in 27.
OC Here are the tickets that remain for the rest of the homestand:
Date ... .... .... Opponent .... .... .... Tickets
Tonight .... ..... Boston .... ..... ..... 7,000
Tomorrow .... .... Boston .... .... ...... 3,500
Saturday .... .... Boston ..... .... ..... 2,000
Sunday .... ...... Boston .... .... ...... 2,500