Notes: Scott looking for full-time role
Versatile outfielder hoping trade brings more playing time
BALTIMORE -- Getting traded never gets easier to handle, but perhaps it gets easier to predict. Consider the case of Luke Scott, who was recently traded from Houston to Baltimore and will get his first taste of a full-time job next season. Scott is over the emotions attached to switching organizations and is fully dialed in to making the most of his experience.
"It kind of floored me the first time, but I kind of had an idea I'd be traded this winter," said Scott, who had been traded once before. "I'm very excited. I think this is going to be a great opportunity. This is all I could ever ask for."
Scott, a former ninth-round Draft pick out of Oklahoma State University, signed with the Cleveland Indians and began his ascent to the big leagues in their Minor League system. He made it as far as Double-A Akron before he was dealt to Houston, and he rounded out his game at the higher levels before making his Major League debut in 2005.
The outfielder has since proven himself in small doses, and he looks at the trade to Baltimore as a chance to take the next step. He'll turn 30 midway through the year, and he readily admits that he would've liked to be a starter sooner in his career.
"My personal wishes and desires aren't really important," said Scott when asked directly about his trajectory. "Unfortunately, the opportunities just haven't presented themselves. I would've liked to be a full-time guy. I've been an everyday player coming through the Minor Leagues. This is something I've expected to happen and I've been working hard."
Thus far in his brief career, Scott's Major League numbers have closely approximated his Minor League totals. The Florida native got nearly 2,000 at-bats in the Minors and racked up a .280 batting average, a .366 on-base percentage and a .534 slugging mark. In just 663 big league at-bats, Scott is a .273 hitter with a .366 on-base mark and a .516 slugging percentage.
Those numbers have come in a part-time role and may be expected to lag a little as he breaks in to the American League, but Scott said he shouldn't have much of a problem adjusting to the new circuit. Scott, who plays all three outfield positions, said that Baltimore's decision-makers have talked about slotting him into a regular role in left field.
He's comfortable with that, but equally willing to move around the outfield and plug gaps whenever they appear.
"I don't have blazing speed like my man Wily Taveras, but I run well enough to be in the right position," he sad. "Center field is actually the easiest to play because you have more time to see the ball. You just also have more ground to cover."
Scott went on to say that playing center might be difficult at first because he doesn't know as many of the hitters and you can only pick up so much from a scouting report. He said that if he winds up slotted into an outfield corner, he'll pay close attention to Baltimore's center fielder and take pointers whenever his teammates try to line him up.
As far as meshing with his new teammates, Scott may not have much to worry about. He was part of a five-man package coming from Houston to Baltimore, and four of those players have a decent chance at making the Orioles' Opening Day roster. Scott said that he's also played with veteran Melvin Mora during winter ball in Venezuela.
Not so fast: The Orioles are still looking into several trade possibilities, but their lead executive doesn't think anything is imminent. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations, responded strongly Thursday to virulent rumors that he was close to sending second baseman Brian Roberts to the Chicago Cubs.
When asked if there was any truth to the speculation, MacPhail didn't really leave much room for debate.
"Zero," he said. "You can put that one to rest. The likelihood of us doing anything between now and the new year is remote."
Roberts, who was named in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball on Dec. 13, is regarded as one of Baltimore's top trade chips. MacPhail didn't rule out the possibility of sending him to Chicago or any other team, but he said it may take some time. Of course, like any good executive, MacPhail left room for the climate to change.
"I just don't see anything," he said. "Everything could change if the phone rings, but I'd think it unlikely."
MacPhail also addressed a league-wide perception that the Orioles are down to two prospective suitors for staff ace Erik Bedard, who has been closely linked to Seattle and Cincinnati in several published reports.
"It's more than that," he said. "And that shouldn't be a surprise."
Power outage: The Orioles didn't have much power last year, and they'll be scrambling to match their modest totals after trading Tejada to Houston in the deal that netted Scott. Only one player on the roster has ever hit more than 30 home runs in a season (Aubrey Huff), and only two more have hit as many as 25 (Jay Payton and Jay Gibbons).
Nick Markakis led Baltimore with 23 homers last season, and Scott hit 18 for the Astros. That total would have tied Tejada for second-most on the Orioles, who had two other players with more than 15 homers (Huff and Kevin Millar). Three AL teams and four National League teams finished with fewer home runs than Baltimore (142).
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.