Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun talks about the Orioles’ potential pursuit of free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett. In the process, he tells an amusing story about the last time the O’s had a chance to get Burnett. It was in 2005, when the Marlins were shopping him before he hit the free agent market. The O’s had a chance to get him and Mike Lowell for a package of prospects that, in hindsight, were no great shakes.
That didn’t happen, of course, as the O’s front office thought that, if Burnett wanted to pitch in Baltimore they could sign him that winter. That didn’t happen either, because he went to Toronto. But Conolly tells us that the O’s front office at that time wasn’t likely to go after Burnett anyway. Why?
. . .sources said Burnett, with his tattoos and body piercings, did not project the image that the Orioles wanted in one of their marquee players. Or, as one club official said to me at the time — and I think he was at least half-joking — “no way we sign a guy with nipple rings.”
Instead, the 2006 Orioles went to battle with respectable citizens in their rotation like Rodrigo Lopez, Kris Benson and Daniel Cabrera and allowed 899 runs. But at least there were no nipple rings involved.
Well, probably not. I’ve never seen Jeff Conine or Sam Perlozzo with their shirts off.
Thanks to some shoddy outfield defense from Edgar Gonzalez, Italy pulled off a shocker Thursday, defeating Mexico 6-5 to start Pool D play in the World Baseball Classic.
Gonzalez, normally an infielder, misplayed two balls in left in the top of the ninth, opening the door for Italy’s two-run inning against Sergio Romo.
Anthony Rizzo was credited with a two-run double on a ball that bounced out of Gonzalez’s glove, giving Italy the lead. Mexico tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases against Jason Grilli before Jorge Cantu grounded out to end it.
Adrian Gonzalez, Edgar’s younger brother, reached base five times, and Cantu delivered a three-run double for Mexico.
Italy jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Rodrigo Lopez in the top of the first, but it didn’t last long, as Mexico responded by loading the bases in front of Cantu’s double in the bottom of the inning. Mexico added a fourth run on a Ramiro Pena double in the second.
Italy was able to come back and tie the game in the fourth, when Twins catcher Drew Butera hit a two-run homer. Mexico, though, again responded in the fifth. Luis Cruz doubled in Eduardo Arredondo to make it 5-4. The game might have ended with that score, but Gonzalez had trouble on both a ball hit over his head by Nick Punto and Rizzo’s fly in the ninth.
Pool D play will continue Friday afternoon, when Canada takes on Italy. Mexico and the United States will have their showdown Friday night, with Yovani Gallardo and R.A. Dickey slated to start. That would now seem to be a must-win game for Mexico.
Yovani Gallardo was supposed to make a spring start for the Brewers on Sunday and then pitch for Mexico against the United States in the World Baseball Classic. The Brewers, though, have scratched him due to a groin tightness, putting his status for the WBC in doubt.
Gallardo’s injury is considered minor. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt that Gallardo will test the groin in a bullpen session Sunday. If he comes through that fine, he’ll be cleared to pitch an inning on Tuesday and then start for Mexico next Friday. However, if he admits to any pain at all, the Brewers could pressure the league to drop him from Mexico’s roster.
“We need to test to be sure he’s 100% before he goes to the Classic,” Roenicke said. “If he’s not ready, he’s not going to pitch in it.”
A Mexico team with Gallardo likely rates as the favorite to advance alongside the U.S. from Pool D. If it has to go without him, it may open the door for Canada to sneak in. Absent Gallardo, Mexico would probably use Marco Estrada, Luis Mendoza and Rodrigo Lopez as its three starters.