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Orioles Notebook

Sosa Expected to Arrive Today

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 23, 2005; Page D05

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 22 -- New Baltimore Orioles outfielder Sammy Sosa is expected to arrive Wednesday at spring training and is scheduled to speak with reporters at a 12:30 p.m. news conference.

Sosa, who was usually the last arrival at the Chicago Cubs' camp, is to make his appearance a day earlier than required. The Orioles expect approximately 25 to 30 out-of-town reporters to attend.

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"I'm looking forward to it, to be honest with you," Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "I think it's going to be fun. I've talked to some of the players. They're excited about it."

Mazzilli said he isn't sure what to expect.

"I think it will be a little overwhelming," Mazzilli said.

Interest in Cuban Exile

The Orioles are interested in signing Cuban exile Maels Rodriguez, who worked out for the club on Friday in Fort Lauderdale. Rodriguez, who reportedly is 25, was considered one of Cuba's best pitchers when he defected in late 2003. It was rumored that he threw a 100-mph fastball.

Then represented by Henry Vilar, Rodriguez sought a contract similar to the four-year, $32 million deal signed by Jose Contreras. But during a workout in San Salvador prior to spring training last year, Rodriguez's fastball topped out only in the high 80s. Interest in him fell dramatically as stories of overuse in Cuba and possible arm troubles began to surface. He went unsigned throughout the year and eventually parted with Vilar.

The workout on Friday was set up by Orioles scout Jesus Halabi.

If signed, Rodriguez likely would start the year in the minors, though he could contribute to the major league team this season. Rodriguez wowed scouts during the 2000 Olympics and was considered one of the best prospects in the world. Beattie said he was told the problems at last year's workout were attributable to a rib cage problem.

"My perspective is he's 25 and hasn't pitched in a few years," Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie said. "He should go play baseball."

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