- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

From combined dispatches

The Baltimore Orioles maintained a trend with the eighth pick in yesterday’s amateur draft, making right-hander Wade Townsend the third pitcher from Rice chosen in the first round.

Townsend is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound junior who went 12-0 with a 1.80 ERA this season. He pitched in 18 games, starting 15, and struck out 148 in 1201/3 innings.

Townsend and teammates Jeff Niemann and Philip Humber, who helped Rice win the Western Athletic Conference crown, were all considered to be prize prospects by the Orioles. Humber went to the New York Mets with the third pick, and Atlanta got Niemann with the fourth pick.

“I guess I’m the worst one,” Townsend said with a chuckle.

The Owls went 46-14 this season, including 24-6 in the WAC.

“Rice had a great staff, and we were just happy to get one of them,” Orioles scouting director Tony DeMacio said. “We feel very fortunate that he was available.”

DeMacio, who scouted Rice frequently this season, returned with glowing reports on Townsend, the WAC pitcher of the year.

“Great arm, bulldog mentality, a strong, physical kid who’s going to give it to you every day,” DeMacio said. “We feel like we’re very fortunate to get him.”

Elsewhere in the draft, the San Diego Padres’ decision to make California high school shortstop Matt Bush the No.1 pick came down to overall talent — and more importantly, money.

Leading up to the draft, the Padres said they narrowed their choices to three college players, including Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew and Long Beach State right-hander Jered Weaver.

Instead, they selected the strong-armed Bush from Mission Bay High School.

Padres general manager Kevin Towers acknowledged that signability played a major role. Agent Scott Boras represents both Drew and Weaver, whose brothers already are high-paid big leaguers.

The Padres were said to be close to signing Bush to a bonus worth around $3million. Both Drew and Weaver were believed to be asking for significantly more than Bush.

“We just didn’t feel that Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver were worth the amount that Scott Boras was going to ask for them,” Towers told XPRS, the team’s flagship radio station. “We felt there was better value in taking a kid like Matt Bush. Hopefully it’ll prove that we’re right.”

Weaver, brother of Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver, fell to Anaheim at No.12 — two picks higher than his brother went in 1999 to Detroit.

Drew went to Arizona with the 15th pick and joined brothers J.D. and Tim as the first trio of sibling first-rounders in draft history.

CARDINALS: Albert Pujols might be available to pinch hit after getting treatment on his sore left hamstring, but St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said he would try to avoid using his first baseman.

“He is still getting treated, so we’ll have to wait and sit,” La Russa said before the Cardinals played the Chicago Cubs. “Is there a situation where he could pinch hit, depending on how he feels? The answer is probably yes. Are we going to try and avoid using him? Absolutely.

“It’s possible that by gametime [the trainer] will say, ‘Look, under no circumstances put him out there,’ ” La Russa added.

ROCKIES: Colorado placed lefty reliever Brian Fuentes on the 15-day disabled list with a strained back muscle that acted up in his outing a day earlier.

Fuentes has been bothered by his troublesome back for several weeks. The Rockies had discussed placing him on the DL earlier, but he recovered for a short time.

Fuentes, 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 19 appearances this season, struggled to get loose in a third of an inning during Sunday’s 16-4 loss and allowed three hits and two runs.

YANKEES: Reliever Steve Karsay is scheduled to make his final extended spring training appearance Thursday and could rejoin New York late this month.

Karsay is coming off rotator cuff surgery in May 2003. He will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week.

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