O's scour for pitching in Las Vegas

O's scour for pitching in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- The Orioles may be forging ahead in the hunt for pitching help, but they got a reminder of some of their most recent staffs at the Bellagio during the first day of the Winter Meetings. Baltimore's last two Opening Day starters -- Erik Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie -- were both on the premises and making the rounds of the hotel.

Guthrie, the team's current staff ace, was in town for last weekend's Oscar de la Hoya fight, while Bedard had some pressing business at hand. The southpaw, who was traded to Seattle last winter, came to Las Vegas to meet with orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum and to apprise the Mariners of his recovery from a left shoulder ailment.

The Orioles, meanwhile, began to do their due diligence on this year's pitching market. Baltimore has expressed an interest in signing A.J. Burnett, but that pursuit has been shared by several other teams. Several published reports have linked Burnett to a lucrative offer with the Braves, but nothing has been finalized as yet.

The Orioles are also reportedly interested in Japanese free agents Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami and will meet with their representatives this week to discuss potential contract terms. Both Uehara and Kawakami are set to make their first forays into the Major Leagues, and both could help alleviate Baltimore's shortage of starters.

Uehara, a two-time recipient of Japan's Sawamura Award, served out of the bullpen for Japan's Yomiuri Giants in each of the last two seasons but will be evaluated as a starter with Baltimore. Kawakami has won both the Sawamura Award and Japan's Rookie of the Year Award and helped Chunichi end a 54-year title drought in 2007.

Mark Pieper and Dan Evans -- the representatives for Uehara and Kawakami, respectively -- were able to immediately return a call for comment on Monday morning.

As of right now, Guthrie is the only member of last year's rotation who is guaranteed a slot in 2009. The Orioles will make a decision on Daniel Cabrera next week, when they weigh whether or not to tender him a contract. The rotation slots that belonged to Brian Burres, Radhames Liz and Garrett Olson last year appear to be up for grabs.

All three of those arms remain under Baltimore's contractual control, but Olson's name has come up in preliminary discussion of a three-way trade that could send him to San Diego. The Orioles are also considering possible rotation berths for Matt Albers and Troy Patton, both of whom are recovering from shoulder ailments.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.