Joe Girardi is facing a tough choice.

Does he accept an offer to become the Baltimore Orioles' new manager or does he take a chance and wait to see if the New York Yankees' managerial job becomes available?

Girardi, of course, wants to resurface as a major-league manager. He was the National League's manager of the year last year with the Florida Marlins. Differences with club owner Jeffrey Loria ended that gig for him but he has made no attempts to camouflage his desire to resume his managerial career.


This year, Girardi has been serving as a broadcaster with the Yankees.

Managing the Yanks, however, is a peachy position -- one of the peachiest in all of professional sports -- and Girardi admits he has had his eye on it since the beginning of this season.

Joe Torre may not be back as the Yanks' manager next season -- he could retire or be fired -- and Girardi knows he would be a prime candidate as Torre's successor.

In the meantime, however, the hapless Orioles have interviewed him and, sources say, are preparing to offer him the opportunity to replace Sam Perlozzo, whom they fired the other day.

So does he take the Orioles' job or does he wait to see if the Yanks' job opens up?

Tough choice.

•Not too many folks say too many nice things about Barry Bonds, mostly because he is a mean SOB, but Reed Johnson is an exception.

The injured outfielder with the Toronto Blue Jays insists that Bonds was a positive influence on him when he was a youngster.

When he was 10 and 11, Johnson's best pal was the son of Bonds' agent. That meant there were times when Johnson, as a kid, spent time with Bonds at the agent's house.

Johnson has pictures of him and Bonds together, when Bonds was a young player with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

•Look for Johnson, incidentally, to return to the Jays' lineup immediately after the all-star break.

Ditto for Lyle Overbay and Gustavo Chacin.

• Leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game?

Surprisingly, Prince Fielder, first baseman with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Fielder leads the National League in home runs.

• A bizarre story that you might not have heard concerns Pittsburgh pitcher Ian Snell, who had to miss a start against the Seattle Mariners the other night because of a blister on the index finger of his throwing hand.

The right-hander blistered his finger while cooking in his kitchen, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"I was cooking a chicken breast for a salad and burned my finger," Snell said. "I'm all right, but the salad wasn't too good."

• Atop the Chicago Cubs' wish list is a left-handed hitter capable of batting every day in the middle of the order.

And Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds looks like a fit for the July 31 trade deadline. Griffey has a history with Cubs manager Lou Piniella and is unhappy in Cincinnati, where he was moved from centre field to right this year.

The Reds are shopping him, and he's told friends he'd welcome a move to Chicago.

• The latest trade rumour involving slugger Adam Dunn has the Reds sending the outfielder to the power-starved San Diego Padres for pitchers Clay Hensley and Justin Hampson and a third player.

• The Yanks and Detroit Tigers have their eyes on Texas Rangers closer Eric Gagne.

Gagne's one-year contract, worth $6-million US plus incentives, includes a no-trade veto clause to all but 12 clubs. The Yanks and Tigers are among those 12.

Elijah Dukes' days in Tampa Bay appear to be numbered as the Devil Rays work to make a trade (perhaps with Florida?) or decide to release him. The outfielder has indicated to club executives that he would like to move on, and the feeling seems to be mutual as he hasn't started a game in more than a week.

He even called a Tampa Bay radio station this week to complain about a variety of personal issues, and that infuriated club management.

And, oh yes, his mother was on the radio station, as well, admitting that she used to sell crack cocaine.

• Shortly after he was released by the Blue Jays this week, pitcher Tomo Ohka started for Triple A Memphis on Wednesday night and allowed four runs in five innings.

Ohka also gave up eight hits and a walk. And he struck out three in his first appearance since being signed by the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

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