- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Expecting to be told officially in coming days that one of their top prospects is as many as three years older than they had thought, the Baltimore Orioles may be forced to view Dominican shortstop Ed Rogers differently.
Rogers, touted as the most promising shortstop in the Orioles' minor league system, is believed to be 23, not 20 as had been reported. The prospect, along with several other baseball players, has been stuck in the Dominican Republic while U.S. authorities check visas and birth certificates as part of the overall beefed-up security effort since September 11.
Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president of baseball operations, said he will not know Rogers' true age until the player arrives at camp with his passport. Rogers is scheduled to meet with the Dominican consulate tomorrow afternoon.
Thrift attempted yesterday to downplay the implications of Rogers' potentially increased age, pointing out that 23 is an average age for players in Class AA, where Rogers is expected to play this season. And even at 23, Rogers would continue to be one of Baltimore's top prospects.
"I wouldn't dare try to put him on waivers and think someone's going to clear him all of a sudden because he's three years older," Thrift said. "You can't rationalize that it makes that big a difference. It may make a difference if the guy is going from 25 to 28 and he still hasn't gotten to the major leagues. [Rogers] hasn't changed. He's a middle infielder and a very good one."
Infielder Eddy Garabito, 23, who has an outside shot to make the Orioles' Opening Day roster as a utility player, also remains in the Dominican Republic facing visa problems, but his age has not come into question.

Hammering the Dodgers
Jerry Hairston and Tony Batista homered and the Orioles took advantage of five Los Angeles Dodgers errors in a 10-6 exhibition victory yesterday.
Aided by a stiff wind blowing out to left field, Hairston and Batista launched home runs off Dodgers reliever Ricardo Rodriguez. Hairston, who led off for Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove for the third straight day, also drew two walks.
Things started getting ugly for Los Angeles in the fourth inning. After Batista lofted a two-run shot to left-center, the Orioles scored two more runs without another hit. Marty Cordova was hit by a pitch, Hairston walked and Fernando Lunar reached when left fielder Marquis Grissom dropped a routine fly ball. Rodriguez's botched pickoff throw capped the ugliness for the Dodgers.
Baltimore starter Josh Towers looked sharp in his first outing of the spring, allowing one hit in two innings. Rick Bauer, one of several young pitchers in the mix for the final spot in the rotation, gave up four hits and a walk in two innings of relief but allowed just one run.
The Orioles face the New York Mets today in Port St. Lucie, with right-hander Scott Erickson making his first official appearance since undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery in August 2000.

Speedy recovery for Mora
Melvin Mora swung a bat for the first time since he broke his left ring finger in late January. The Orioles' utility player could make his spring debut this week, much sooner than originally expected.
Mora, who suffered the injury playing winter ball in Venezuela, originally did not expect to be back until the last week of spring training. However, X-rays taken in Sarasota earlier in the week confirmed that his finger had healed and he was cleared to resume workouts.
Hargrove said Mora could begin appearing in games in the next 4-to-5 days.
"I have to hit tomorrow again and again the next day and the next day," Mora said. "I'll be back at 100 percent soon, maybe next week."
At one time projected as Baltimore's starting center fielder, Mora lost his job when the Orioles traded for Chris Singleton. He's expected to be used in his more valuable role as a backup outfielder and middle infielder.

Extra bases
Former Orioles utility man Mike Kinkade, who saw some action at third base last season before Cal Ripken announced his retirement, hit a solo homer off Baltimore left-hander John Parrish in the ninth inning. Kinkade, who was waived by the Orioles during the offseason, is trying to make the Dodgers' roster as a minor league free agent. …
Baltimore signed four more players to one-year contracts yesterday: Hairston, outfielder Larry Bigbie and relievers B.J. Ryan and Jorge Julio. The only unsigned player on the 40-man roster is pitcher Calvin Maduro.


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