A few notes from Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Early rumors from Day 2 of the Winter Meetings include the Orioles having interest in Nationals first baseman Michael Morse and Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

The Morse report from FOXSports.com is absolutely correct. However, as I’ve stated, the interest is lukewarm at the moment. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters yesterday that he hasn’t been contacted by the Orioles.

Industry types figure that the Orioles will become more aggressive if Adam LaRoche re-signs with the Nats and executive vice president Dan Duquette remains in the market for a middle-of-the-order bat. Morse can play first base and left field and he’s got pop. There’s an obvious appeal, though he also has only one year remaining on his contract.

Color the Orioles interested, but on the periphery.

CBSSports.com included the Orioles among eight teams that have contacted the Mets about Dickey. They may simply be checking in to gauge what the Mets are asking for in return. What’s the harm?

The Orioles want a veteran starter and Buck Showalter managed Dickey in Texas. He’s credited with convincing Dickey to try the knuckleball. Again, there’s an obvious appeal. However, I still believe that the Orioles are more likely to trade for a bat and sign a pitcher, and the Mets remain in negotiations with Dickey’s agent on an extension.

By the way, does anyone know if Matt Wieters can catch a knuckleball?

I received further confirmation this morning, not that it was necessary, that the Orioles aren’t going hard after LaRoche. It looks like the Nats and Mariners are the two teams really in play for him. Bet on the Nats retaining him.

What about the Royals’ Billy Butler? I keep asking why Kansas City would trade him. Good contract, one of the top right-handed bats in the league and a fan favorite. Well, the more people I talk to, the more it sounds like he isn’t one of the biggest trade chips at these meetings.

If you assumed that Butler would be dealt this week, you may be in for a huge disappointment. Plenty of teams like him, including the Orioles, but are the Royals really willing to move him? Industry and media types here have their doubts. And the same goes for Eric Hosmer, another player who appeals greatly to the Orioles.

You won’t hear any rumors attaching the Orioles to Marlins shortstop Yunel Escobar. They don’t need a shortstop and they have zero interest in putting Escobar in their clubhouse. I won’t have to waste my time chasing reports on him.

Sweet relief.

The Marlins reportedly are interested in former Oriole Mark Reynolds.

Ryan Flaherty started at third base yesterday for Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. In four games, he’s 2-for-11 with two RBIs, two walks, a run scored and one strikeout.

Pedro Strop got the hold yesterday, allowing one hit and striking out a batter in one inning.

I talked to a scout recently who used Strop as an example of the dangers of making judgments on a reliever based on small sample sizes. If he had seen Strop only a few times in August, he would have been convinced that the right-hander projected as a dominant closer. See him only a few times in September, and the report would have been totally different.

Every manager sits down with reporters here for the annual Winter Meetings scrum. Showalter is scheduled to arrive in the media workroom at 2:30 p.m., so I’ll file anything interesting that comes from that session.

I’m sure most of the talk will seem repetitive to Orioles fans, but the national media will get a chance to hit on topics he’s already addressed with the local beat crew.

Perhaps he will drop a few hints about his preference for a third base coach.

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