O's may miss on targets


Team's wish list included Byrd, Benson, but no deals in sight




Just days before baseball's winter meetings, the Orioles have yet to shore up any of their weaknesses, and now it appears a couple of their targets will remain elsewhere next season.

The Orioles' pursuit of Los Angeles Angels free-agent pitcher Paul Byrd is all but over, according to one team official. The Orioles offered Byrd a two-year, $13 million deal plus an option, but the right-hander has attracted significant interest from other teams and could be looking at a contract similar to the three-year, $21 million deal that Washington Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza signed with the Oakland Athletics last week.

"I don't think we ever got to that point where we said this was a done deal," said Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan. "But we stepped up and certainly had serious talks. It all changed a little bit."

The Orioles appeared to be nearing a deal for the pitcher earlier this week, but they couldn't complete it. Byrd reportedly spent part of the week in Cleveland meeting with Indians officials. The Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers are also reportedly in the mix for the pitcher. Also, the deal that would have sent reliever Jorge Julio to the New York Mets for starting pitcher Kris Benson appears to be abandoned at this point, according to an industry source.

Flanagan, who will leave for Dallas on Monday for the meetings, along with several other Orioles officials, said that finding starting pitching remains a priority for the club.

A.J. Burnett, one of the top pitchers on the free-agent market, has yet to get an offer from the Orioles, who aren't interested in extending a five-year deal to the right-hander.

Schedule released

The Orioles' 2006 schedule includes three consecutive 10-game road trips, the much-anticipated home-and-home series with the Nationals and a brutal stretch to close the season.

The Orioles, who open the season against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on April 3 at Camden Yards, will play 12 of their last 15 games on the road, including the last six at the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

For the first time, the Orioles will travel to Washington to face the Nationals (May 19-21) before hosting Washington (June 23-25). The Florida Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies will also visit Camden Yards in interleague play.

The regular sale of tickets for 2006 home games will begin Jan. 7, coinciding with the Orioles FanFest.

Around the minors

The club announced that the managers of its top five affiliates - Dave Trembley at Triple-A Ottawa, Don Werner at Double-A Bowie, Bien Figueroa at Single-A Frederick, Gary Kendall at Single-A Delmarva and Andy Etchebarren at Short-A Aberdeen - will return. Former Oriole Scott McGregor was promoted from Frederick to be Bowie's pitching coach.


Orioles 2006 schedule

(All times TBA)


3-Tampa Bay; 5-6-Tampa Bay; 7-9-Boston; 10-13-at Tampa Bay; 14-17-L.A. (AL); 18-20-Cleveland; 21-23-N.Y. (AL); 25-27-at Toronto; 28-30-Seattle


1-2-Toronto; 3-4-at Texas; 5-7-at Boston; 9-11-Detroit; 12-14-Kansas City; 15-17-Boston; 19-21-at Washington; 22-25-Seattle; 26-28-at L.A. (AL); 30-31-Tampa Bay


1-Tampa Bay; 2-4-N.Y. (AL); 5-8-Toronto; 9-11-at Minnesota; 12-15-at Toronto; 16-18-at N.Y. (NL); 20-22-Florida; 23-25-Washington; 27-29-Philadelphia; 30-at Atlanta


1-2-at Atlanta; 3-6-at Chicago (AL); 7-9-at Cleveland; 10-12-All-Star Break; 13-16-Texas; 17-19-Oakland; 21-23-at Tampa Bay; 25-27-at Kansas City; 28-30-Chicago (AL); 31-Seattle


1-2-Seattle; 4-6-N.Y. (AL); 7-9-at Toronto; 11-13-at Boston; 15-17-at N.Y. (AL); 18-20-Toronto; 22-24-Minnesota; 25-27-Tampa Bay; 28-30-at Texas


Sept. 1-3-at Oakland; 4-6-at L.A. (AL); 8-11-N.Y. (AL); 12-14-Boston; 15-17-at Detroit; 18-20-at Tampa Bay; 22-24-Minnesota; 26-28-at N.Y. (AL); 29-30-at Boston; Oct. 1-at Boston

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