Center fielder Buford catches O's eye


The Orioles, at least two months removed from Luis Matos' return from shoulder surgery and increasingly resigned to Eugene Kingsale's status as an eternal prospect, have shown interest in reacquiring center fielder Damon Buford, who cleared waivers yesterday after being released by the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday.

Buford, 30, was hitting .176 with three home runs and eight RBIs after opening the season as the Cubs' starting center fielder. A season-opening 3-for-44 slump made Buford expendable, though he later hit safely in seven of eight games. The son of Orioles director of minor-league operations Don Buford signed with the Orioles in 1990 before being dealt to the New York Mets in 1995.

Buford was traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Cubs for ex-Orioles infield prospect Manny Alexander on Dec. 11, 1999, two days after signing a two-year, $2.2 million contract. His best season came in Boston in 1998 when he hit .282 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs.

By clearing waivers, Buford will cost his next club only a pro-rated share of the $200,000 major-league minimum if it places him on its roster. The Orioles apparently are considering an arrangement in which they would initially assign Buford to Triple-A Rochester.

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