If Dwight Evans returns for another season with the Orioles, the fans will be a big reason why.
"I have a great deal of respect for the Baltimore Orioles and more so for the fans," Evans told The Sun yesterday after announcing he was formally filing for free agency. "I knew they were good fans, but I didn't realize how much I really enjoyed myself."
So why file for free agency? The 40-year-old outfielder, who spent the first 19 years of his major-league career in Boston, says it is simply a protective measure and he would like nothing more than to re-sign with the Orioles.
"I want to come back," said Evans, who started 58 games in rightfield and was the team's best pinch hitter (10-for-25, .400). "But I just want to see what's available and get the best deal that I can. I'm just doing what I'm entitled to and what I have to do."
Evans played in 101 games for the Orioles last season, batting .270 (two points below his career average) with six home runs and 38 RBIs.
Roland Hemond, who is attending the major-league general managers' meetings in Florida, shares Evans' desire to see him playing in Baltimore.
"Yes, we would like to have him back," Hemond told The Sun. "He was anxious to prove something last season, and he did it. His filing [for free agency] is just normal procedure."
Evans made a base salary of $800,000 in 1991 and also reached some incentives (including games played) that increased the salary to nearly $1 million.
He becomes the second Oriole to file for free agency, joining first baseman Glenn Davis. The deadline for filing is next Monday.