FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Not content with exercising the option on Buddy Groom's contract this winter, the Orioles have signed the left-hander to a two-year extension worth $6.25 million.
The deal includes a $3 million club option in 2005 and a $250,000 buyout. Performance bonuses based on games finished could add $500,000 to the package.
Groom, who turns 37 in July, remains the team's most durable reliever, with six consecutive seasons of 70 or more appearances, a streak that ties Arizona's Mike Myers for the major-league record.
"We are so pleased," said Phil Tannenbaum, Groom's agent. "Nobody has worked harder or deserves this more than Buddy."
Tannenbaum approached Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations, one day before the All-Star break about an extension. Groom blew a save that same afternoon by allowing a three-run homer to Philadelphia's Travis Lee with two outs in the ninth.
Tannenbaum met with Thrift and special assistant Ed Kenney at Camden Yards last month as the two sides moved closer to an agreement.
"This gives stability to our bullpen and rewards a person who's been a top performer," Thrift said. "Plus, he gives us leadership for our young pitchers."
Invaluable in a setup role, Groom also led the Orioles with 11 saves despite not beginning or ending the season as the closer. He fell two short of his career total going into the year, having never registered more than four in a single season until 2001. And without a veteran closer in camp, Groom again should receive some opportunities to nail down a win.
"He's a premier guy, a very important person," Thrift said.
The signing continues a busy spring training for Groom, who rejoined the club on Sunday after flying to Texas two days earlier for the birth of his fifth child.
"This has been an exciting weekend. I'm happy for both," said Groom, who will earn $2.5 million this season.
Groom came to the organization as a free agent on Dec. 22, 1999, signing a two-year deal with an option that the Orioles exercised in November. He's appeared in 549 games in 10 major-league seasons, including stints with Detroit, Florida and Oakland.
"Syd and everybody were really good to me when I was a free agent. I feel like I'm giving back to them," he said. "The best thing is I felt like I have the best manager that I've ever had. And he cares about family."
Sounds like the perfect match for Groom.
"Buddy goes about his business the right way," manager Mike Hargrove said, "and our young kids can learn from that."
Teams always inquire about Groom when the waiver deadline approaches in late July, but the Orioles have resisted.
Noting Groom's importance to the club even when it's out of contention, Hargrove said: "You have to have anchors to everything you do. His value to us, beyond the fact that he's very good at what he does, is the fact he takes a lot of the pressure off the young kids and allows them to develop as they should."
Good start for Segui
Groom didn't appear in yesterday's first intrasquad game, which lasted 4 1/2 innings and included a perfect inning from Jason Johnson.
Perhaps nobody got more out of the game than David Segui, who marked his return from left knee surgery by going 2-for-2 with an RBI and a stolen base. Mike Bordick drove in a run with a sacrifice fly after Brook Fordyce and Howie Clark singled off reliever Kris Foster and Jerry Hairston laid down a sacrifice bunt.
Jay Gibbons and Marty Cordova made diving catches in left field, as coach Dave Cash's team defeated Andy Etchebarren's team, 2-0.
"It was a good first day," Hargrove said. "I saw some good things. I didn't see anything bad."
McGregor in camp
The Orioles' expanded spring training coaching staff has found room for a former pitcher with one of the strongest links to past glory.
Scott McGregor, who recorded the final out for the Orioles in the 1983 World Series, has been added to the camp's roster as a pitching instructor. He hadn't slipped on a uniform, beyond making appearances at fantasy camps or team reunions, since retiring in 1988.
"The last couple years, I've been thinking about it more," said McGregor, a member of the club's Hall of Fame who spent the past 14 years working full-time at his ministry in Towson. "I really would like to get working with the young guys again and see if we can re-establish some of the old ways."
McGregor, who got his first look at Fort Lauderdale Stadium when drafted by the Yankees in 1972, also has applied to be pitching coach for Cal Ripken's short-season Single-A team in Aberdeen.