A few notes from the Shorebirds banquet

I'm expecting a quiet Sunday, as executive vice president Dan Duquette and new director of minor league operations Kent Qualls fly to the Dominican Republic to check out some of their Latin players at the club's year-round developmental program.

Qualls has strong ties to Duquette. He spent 16 years with the Expos and Red Sox, primarily working in scouting, player development and Latin American operations, and he was named director of the NIKE Dan Duquette Sport Academy when it opened in 2003.

During last night's Shorebirds Hot Stove Banquet at the Delmar VFW, Qualls was asked about his day-to-day responsibilities as a director of minor league operations.

"Basically, I'll handle all the administrative functions of the minor league department," Qualls said. "Dealing with the agents, dealing with the players on contracts. Any time there's a player move, not only does a player physically have to move, but we have certain transactions with MLB and minor league baseball we have to make in the office.

"It's also understanding and knowing all the rules. There's rules on top of rules. And making sure we're within the guidelines in terms of service times and ages of players. And this time of the year, we're working on spring training, deciding which players are reporting on which days."

Duquette couldn't appear at last night's banquet because he was attending the memorial service for Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver in Davie, Fla.

"He does send his regards and he expressed that he'd love to come back to Delmarva at some point and meet with all the fans, so we're going to try to arrange that in the future," Qualls said. "You'll get a chance to meet Dan and ask him all your questions - why hasn't he made a big trade, all those kinds of things."

Good one.

Brooks Robinson was counted among the former Orioles at the memorial service for Weaver. He already had decided to skip that day's Joe DiMaggio Legends Game at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, but he ended up in Florida for the service.

You may recall that Robinson suffered a broken clavicle and another fracture to his rear shoulder area last January after falling backward off a stage during a player reception at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., a day before the annual legends game. It doesn't seem that long ago to me.

New Single-A Delmarva manager Luis Pujols was introduced to Shorebirds fans last night. Pujols is replacing Ryan Minor, who moves up to high Single-A Frederick.

"I know we're going to have some Spanish-speaking players and hopefully I can communicate a little bit in Spanish with them," he said. "So that's the advantage that I have over Minor."

Good one.

Pujols and Qualls worked together with the Expos.

"You're getting a true professional manager," Qualls said. "He was a catcher in the big leagues. A lot of catchers make really good managers. They know the game, they know how to handle a pitching staff, which is key. Louie has a long track record in that."

I predicted at last year's banquet that the Orioles would make the playoffs. I did it for the cheap applause, but it happened. So yes, I made the same prediction last night. More applause.


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