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Jonesin’ For Pitching

BALTIMORE–The Orioles have stashed a supplemental draft choice in their farm system without making a selection this year.

Lefthander Chris Jones, selected 38th overall by the Giants in 1998, was released in spring training and signed by the Orioles. He was sent to Sarasota, Fla., to improve his conditioning and is expected to report to high Class A Frederick later this summer.

The Orioles placed Jones on the temporarily inactive list while he works his way back into shape and improves his arm strength.

"It’s always intriguing when you’re talking about a high draft choice, a guy who was signed young," farm director Doc Rodgers said. "With a tweak here and a tweak there, maybe you end up getting something for nothing."

The 23-year-old has gone 23-32, 5.76 in five seasons at four different levels in the minors. Forty of his first 42 appearances came as a starter before the Giants converted him to the bullpen. He was 1-7, 6.40 last summer at Double-A Shreveport.

Jones will pitch in long relief at Frederick, but the organization will not overwork the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder.

"We’re trying to build him up to 50 to 75 pitches. He’ll start at some point," Rodgers said.

Questions arose regarding Jones’ health, but Rodgers said the Orioles are certain that he is healthy. They don’t need another injured pitcher. Former No. 1 picks Beau Hale (2000) and Chris Smith (2001) are expected to miss the entire season after having surgery, as is the organization’s No. 1 prospect, lefthander Erik Bedard, who had Tommy John surgery last fall.

Bird Seed

• The Orioles released righthander Luis Rivera, who missed the past two seasons because of a torn labrum that required surgery. Rivera was regarded as the centerpiece of the July 2000 trade that sent B.J. Surhoff to the Braves.

• Catcher Izzy Molina had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. He reported to the minor league complex in Sarasota to begin a rehab program, after which he’ll be assigned to Triple-A Ottawa.

• Previous organization reports: Darnell McDonald

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