Corner infielders aren’t on Duquette’s shopping list

The Winter Meetings begin Monday in Dallas, and the common perception among reporters is that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is more likely to swing a trade or two than sign a free agent.

“Well, I hope we do both,” Duquette said yesterday. “I hope we can make some trades to help our team, and then also sign some free agent players to help our team. Hopefully, we can do both next week.”

Duquette indicated during his introductory press conference that the Orioles wouldn’t pursue the big-ticket items on the free agent market. That means no Prince Fielder, right?

“I kind of poured water on that one, didn’t I?” he said.

Though he didn’t offer any names, Duquette shared his shopping list going into the Winter Meetings.

“I usually stick to the script,” he said. “We’re looking for a backup catcher, we’re looking for another outfielder, and we’re looking to add to our pitching staff.”

Rotation and bullpen?

“Both,” Duquette said.

I don’t see a power-hitting first baseman on that list.

“We have a power-hitting first baseman, right?” Duquette said, referring to Mark Reynolds.

When I suggested that Reynolds could move back to third base, Duquette replied, “I like him at first. I think he’s better defensively at first than at third.”

So who’s going to play third base?

“We signed (Matt) Antonelli, who can play some third. And (Chris) Davis, in his audition at third, showed favorably,” Duquette said. “I know Antonelli can play third, and Davis looked pretty good. He’s a good athlete. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to improve.”

So much for my theory that Antonelli doesn’t offer enough offensively to play third base on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Antonelli appeared in 86 games with Triple-A Syracuse and four with Double-A Harrisburg this year, batting a combined .298/.390/.457 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. He finished in the top 10 of the International League in on-base percentage.

“If you look at his on-base and his slugging, that’s pretty good if it translates to the big leagues,” Duquette said.

Antonelli, the 17th overall pick in the 2006 First Year Player Draft, batted .193/.292/.281 in 21 games with the Padres in 2008.

“A good third baseman is hard to find, but Antonelli should be a good player for us,” Duquette said. “The other strength that he has is he has good leadership ability, and he will be a fan favorite. Fans will like Antonelli because of the way he plays and he has a winning personality.

“He looks like a ballplayer. He’s got a good look about him, and he’s a former No. 1 pick. To me, that identifies his ability, right? There are reasons why he’s not in the big leagues playing, but primarily it had to do with some injuries that he had. But he looks to be over those.

“A third base of Davis and Antonelli, I think, would be pretty good. We’d have solid defense, and then pretty fair offensively capability, too. If you take a look at Bill James’ projections, they’re projecting Davis to slug at .500 next year. Obviously, he’d have to mature and his approach would have to be consistent for him to do that, but he’s got that kind of capability.”

As for the designated hitter, manager Buck Showalter prefers to keep the spot flexible so he can rotate players, rather than having one veteran written into the lineup every night. Duquette seems to agree.

“I’d be guided by his preference,” Duquette said.

When I passed along a rumor that the Orioles were prepared to offer David Ortiz a two-year deal, Duquette replied, “Did you see my comments about that? A 36-year-old DH would be a luxury for us.”

In case you didn’t see the Hall of Fame ballot yesterday, here it is:

Jeff Bagwell
Jeromy Burnitz
Vinny Castilla
Juan Gonzalez
Brian Jordan
Barry Larkin
Javy Lopez
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Bill Mueller
Terry Mulholland
Dale Murphy
Phil Nevin
Rafael Palmeiro
Brad Radke
Tim Raines
Tim Salmon
Ruben Sierra
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker
Bernie Williams
Tony Womack
Eric Young

Enshrinement requires 75 percent of the votes. Results will be announced Jan. 9.

I noticed quite a few sportswriters on Twitter yesterday campaigning for Trammell.

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