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Left-handed relief pitcher atop Orioles' list as trade deadline nears

As the nonwaiver trade deadline approaches Thursday at 4 p.m., the Orioles are focused on acquiring a mid-level starter and a left-handed reliever, as well as a potential upgrade offensively at either second base or catcher.

The club has talked to several teams about acquiring a versatile left-hander who could push Brian Matusz into more of a lefty specialist role. Left-handers are hitting .233 against Matusz, while right-handers are batting .308 versus him. Adding another left-handed reliever would make the Orioles’ stout bullpen even stronger.

Among the potential trade possibilities are the Texas Rangers’ Neal Cotts, Boston’s Andrew Miller, the Houston AstrosTony Sipp and the Arizona DiamondbacksOliver Perez. Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies also is rumored to be available, but the Orioles don’t appear interested him at this point.

Leading credence to the club’s interest in Cotts, one of the Rangers’ special assignment scouts was in Akron on Wednesday watching the Cleveland Indians’ Double-A affiliate play Double-A Bowie. Pitching for the Baysox was left-hander Tim Berry, who is widely considered a top 10 prospect in the organization.

Cotts, 34, was 2-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 50 appearances through Tuesday this year for the Rangers. Normally effective against right-handers (.237 career average against) and lefties (.247), he has struggled against lefties this season (.277 average; .290 since June 1).

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