Getting caught in the draft

The Rule 5 draft is about one hour away, and you can feel the electricity in the air.

Actually, that’s just static from the carpet.

More than a few reporters here wonder why the draft isn’t conducted online. Do we really need to gather in a conference room and listen to team reps bark out names or pass on their selections?

This one’s taking place at the Westin instead of the downtown Marriott, which is convenient for guests like myself. I can just roll out of bed and stumble to the elevators. I will, however, shower and throw on some clothes to maintain my professional image.

Don’t become too attached to the Orioles’ pick. He won’t be going to spring training.

I had a late dinner last night with Cardinals beat writer Joe Strauss. We began covering the Orioles together in 1997, the wire-to-wire season. I quizzed Strauss on the Rule 5 selection who lasted through part of that summer (I believe he made it past the break) before eventually returning to his original team.

Strauss drew a blank on the name, but it was pitcher Mike Johnson, who was taken from the Montreal Expos.

We spent more time yesterday talking about Kevin Millwood than Chris Ray, but the reliever deserves some recognition here. You get to know these guys after spending six weeks with them in spring training and an entire season, engaging in small talk at their lockers or grilling them after a rough outing - and in the case of a closer, another blown save. Ray’s one of the good ones. Few players who passed through town have been nicer or more accommodating.

It will be interesting to see how his career progresses in Texas. I suppose it wouldn’t be a complete shock if he’s non-tendered (it once happened to catcher Johnny Estrada after the Mets traded for him), but that would truly signify that the Millwood deal was a salary dump.

I hope he becomes an integral part of that Rangers’ bullpen and can stay healthy. He still brings the heat, but he also has that violent delivery that made plenty of baseball people wonder when he would blow out his arm.

OK, it’s time to get ready for the Rule 5. I’ll send along all the pertinent information, including any players that the Orioles lose. And we all know which one is the biggest curiosity.

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