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In terms of O's prospects, Ottawa pipeline runs dry


One American League scout recently spent a week watching the Orioles' top affiliate, the Ottawa Lynx. He came away thoroughly unimpressed.

Only one player caught his eye: Veteran utility player Howie Clark.

"Clark can hit. He is an interesting character," the scout said. "I like him because he works hard every day; he doesn't fool around."

Clark, 32, is back with the Orioles. And that leaves the cupboard nearly bare in Ottawa, the scout said.

He said first baseman Andy Tracy has enough raw power to be "an emergency call-up" this year and that left-hander Brian Burres "may have a shot" as a big league reliever. He said he hasn't given up on outfield prospect Val Majewski, who has struggled while battling injuries, but "I have him as fringy right now."

"I was disappointed in them," the scout said of the sub-.500 Lynx. "I don't know how to put it any other way."

Orioles minor league director David Stockstill said he understands the criticism, but he said it's not altogether fair. He thinks Burres and relievers Winston Abreu, Eddy Rodriguez and Julio Manon could help the Orioles.

He admits the team has a lot of organizational types with limited futures, but said: "You have to have some of those type of players that can come to [the] big leagues in a moment's notice, maybe only for 10 days or so. You have to have a couple of those guys."

Also, Stockstill points out that Ottawa was passed over this year by four current Orioles who went straight from Double-A Bowie to the big leagues: Adam Loewen, Nick Markakis, Chris Britton and Sendy Rleal. And two others, Kurt Birkins and Brandon Fahey, didn't play long at Triple-A.

"I think it's difficult to criticize us too much, because a lot of those [journeymen] we signed out of necessity because we had players skip that level," Stockstill said. "We have players that could have been in Triple-A that are in the big leagues for us, and really, that is our purpose."

Say it ain't so

Ozzie Guillen has said plenty of shocking things in his Chicago White Sox managerial tenure, but the most startling may have come last week.

"You might hear less quotes from me than in the past," Guillen said. "I think Ozzie won't be the friendly person he was in the past and that will hurt a lot of people."

You've got to love a guy who, even in a humbling moment, speaks in third person. In fact, if you do this job, you have to love Guillen, period. Sure, his comments are often ridiculous and daft -- like last week when he uttered a homosexual slur at Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti and was surprised that he offended people.

And he's constantly getting into trouble; last week he had verbal scuffles with Mariotti, St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and Houston Astros manager Phil Garner.

Yes, he may be way over the top. But on behalf of all of us who have to fill a weekly baseball column, here's a plea: Don't give up, Ozzie. Stay the obnoxious course.

Quick hits

Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has one hit and 13 strikeouts in 28 career at-bats. Think he's leaning toward staying in the American League once he becomes a free agent this winter? ... David Ortiz's five career grand slams have come at Fenway Park, including one when he was with the Minnesota Twins.

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