Not getting Hudson good deal for O's

NL notebook

Baseball Week

June 05, 2005

As the Tim Hudson sweepstakes escalated last December, it was believed he wasn't interested in signing a long-term deal with the Orioles.

The conventional wisdom, supported by sources close to the negotiations, was that if the Orioles had acquired him from the Oakland Athletics, Hudson would have played out his year in Baltimore and then declared free agency. He would have been a one-year rental, nothing more. He was determined to play for the Atlanta Braves. No one else.

"That wasn't the case at all," said Hudson, who was in Washington last week with the Braves.

Hudson said he never was opposed to signing an extension with the Orioles. But it never was an option since A's general manager Billy Beane refused to give the Orioles a 72-hour window to negotiate with the star pitcher.

If they had talked, Hudson said he might have signed a long-term deal in Baltimore.

"Sure, I could have been there," he said.

Admittedly, Hudson said his first choice was always Atlanta, a perennial contender and the team he cheered for while growing up near the Alabama/Georgia border. There really was no second choice.

"Pretty much everybody else was on a level playing field with me," he said.

And he did have concerns about Baltimore, because the Orioles play in the difficult American League East and hadn't been competitive in years. So, he would have had to consider those negatives before signing long term.

Even now, the Orioles aren't sure if they had a legitimate shot at signing Hudson since they couldn't talk to him. But know this: They had the money. They certainly could have topped Atlanta's four-year, $47 million contract, which many in the industry concede was a hometown discount.

And they had the prospects to seal a deal with Oakland. Although the front office won't confirm specifics, it's believed pitchers Erik Bedard, Hayden Penn and/or John Maine were discussed. Insiders considered the Orioles' offer the best, but they were the only ones who requested negotiating time.

In retrospect, Hudson said the non-deal might have worked best for him and the Orioles.

"You think about what it would have cost them to get me and you wonder if they would be better off," Hudson said. "Probably not."

A. Jones' secret

Braves center fielder Andruw Jones batted .239 with three homers in April, then rebounded by hitting .283 with nine homers in May. He altered his batting stance while adding a nuance that irked Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson and his team last week.

Robinson complained several times to umpires during the four-game series with the Braves that Jones' lead foot was striding out of the top of the batter's box each time he swung. Robinson said the umpires didn't have to see it to call Jones out, because he was leaving incriminating footprints.

Quick hits

The San Diego Padres' 22-6 record in May was their winningest month ever ... The Houston Astros' Roy Oswalt is 14-0 against the Cincinnati Reds, the best undefeated record against a team in baseball history.

League notebooks are compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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