(under the guise of a hospital visit to ailing kids, Mike seeks hitting advice from anyone who will offer it)

Spare a thought for the poor saps at Atec Pitching Machines, who chose struggling (I refuse to use the word “scufflin'”, as favored by that great man of letters Harold Reynolds, unless it is followed by the words “hobo”) Marlins 3B Mike Lowell as the centerpiece of their new ad campaign. Lowell could well be on his way to Charm City, writes the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer.

Discussions between the Marlins and Orioles are intensifying over a proposed trade that could send pitcher A.J. Burnett and, perhaps, third baseman Mike Lowell to Baltimore.

But the Marlins are continuing to talk to more than six teams about Burnett, who is being eyed strongly by the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.

The Orioles might present the Marlins with an opportunity to unload Lowell, who has been mired in a prolonged slump and is owed $18 million over the next two seasons.

According to a source with knowledge of the talks, the Marlins likely would receive reliever Jorge Julio, right-handed pitching prospect Hayden Penn and possibly outfielder Larry Bigbie and lefty reliever Steve Kline. The Marlins also could throw in minor-league outfielder Eric Reed.

If the Marlins trade Lowell, they could move Miguel Cabrera to third base, the position where he feels most comfortable. Losing Lowell’s contract could free up money to spend on an outfielder, as both Juan Encarnacion and Jeff Conine are free agents after the season.