There have been more rumors floating concerning free agent pitcher Ervin Santana and the Orioles.

The best I can glean is that the Orioles maintain interest in the veteran right-hander and wouldn't blink at all about surrendering their third-round draft pick for him. But there hasn't been any real dialogue in the past couple days, a source said Wednesday night.


The problem is that Santana has played the waiting game all offseason and his demands have not dropped significantly. And so the Orioles aren't currently excited about meeting those (which are still believed to be in the Ubaldo Jimenez range of four years and $50 million). The sides haven't spoken in a couple days, but the dialogue doesn't appear dead at this point, either.

There's no real mystery here: The Orioles' interest comes down to how many years and how much money Santana can get. You'd think with the need for pitching throughout the majors, being patient will get Santana a lucrative job (that's what Kyle Lohse did last year and landed a three-year, $33 million deal in March). But, like Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, the Orioles are interested in Santana if they think the final deal is a good value.

** Zach Britton's second outing this spring was better than his first (in which he allowed three hits, a walk and a run in two innings last Friday).

He kept the ball down Wednesday night against the Minnesota Twins in two scoreless innings. He induced several groundouts and a couple strikeouts – which is vintage Britton. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he's glad new pitching coach Dave Wallace had a chance to witness that type of performance. Britton gave up one hit, a single to Joe Mauer, and also hit Kurt Suzuki on the foot with a pitch.

Britton also got hit himself on a liner that smashed his glove hand. He winced in pain but still made the play to get the out. Britton didn't need X-Rays.

"Scared the (heck) out of him but it hit him on the glove," Showalter said. "He seems to be all right."

This is obviously a big spring for Britton, and the guy's stuff plays in the majors if he can be consistent.

** We hear the "I'm in the best shape of my career" stuff every spring training. And it usually doesn't mean much. I will say this, though: Wednesday was my first full day in Orioles' camp and two guys look considerably different this spring, outfielders Henry Urrutia and Nick Markakis. Both have added pounds and pounds of muscle. Also, Jonathan Schoop keeps filling out. He is going to be an awfully big, awfully strong infielder when he is ready for the majors.

** The Orioles certainly didn't send their A team to Fort Myers, but it was impressive seeing Quintin Berry and Jemile Weeks atop the Orioles' order. The duo can fly, and both stole third base in the game. We haven't seen a whole lot of that confident running in Orioles' uniforms recently.

Nate McLouth led the Orioles in steals last year with 30. Adam Jones was the only other Oriole with more than 10 steals in 2013 (he had 14). Weeks has the potential to steal a bunch if he ends up earning the playing time. Berry is a pinch-running specialist. I can't imagine we'll see a regular-season game in which they are back-to-back atop a starting lineup, but it was fun – and unusual – to watch Wednesday.

** Owner Peter Angelos is chartering a plane to take as many as 30 Orioles players and staff to Virginia on Friday so they can visit with the family of the late public relations director Monica Barlow. As someone who considered Barlow a friend, I believe it's a great gesture on part of the club, manager Buck Showalter and Angelos. Monica would be honored.

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