Tejada trade a possibility

Flanagan, Perlozzo unable to reach star

December 10, 2005|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

Twenty four hours after stunning Orioles officials with a public request for a trade, All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada still hasn't spoken to team executives, and a trade of the franchise's most celebrated player grows more possible by the day.

Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan and manager Sam Perlozzo did not get their calls returned as of late last night from Tejada, who said Thursday that the best thing for him would be a "change of scenery."

Flanagan and Orioles vice president Jim Duquette yesterday spoke to Tejada's agents, Fernando Cuza and Diego Bentz, who according to sources familiar with the talks, did not back down from the trade demand, citing Tejada's frustration with two losing seasons and what he perceived as front office inactivity. Bentz declined to comment yesterday, citing agency policy.

Meanwhile, according to industry sources, suitors for the former Most Valuable Player and three-time All-Star, are lining up, including the shortstop-less Boston Red Sox, who have intimated that slugger Manny Ramirez would be available in a trade for Tejada. However, the Orioles, according to team sources, would be unlikely to trade their star player within the American League East.

"We had a conversation with Bentz early in the day and at this point there is not a whole lot of information I can share," Flanagan said. "We're not going to get involved in talking about trades or verifying trade discussions about Miguel. We don't comment on any player who may be up for a trade."

Numerous other teams contacted the Orioles yesterday about the availability of Tejada, who has four more seasons left on the six-year, $72 million deal he signed with the Orioles before the 2004 season.

Said one American League executive: "A player of Tejada's caliber will always draw interest from other clubs, but just because a player wants to be traded, doesn't mean that he will be."

One Orioles source said that if Tejada holds to his trade demand, which he told to an Associated Press reporter in a phone interview from his native Dominican Republic on Thursday, the club could be inclined to give him his wish, but it would expect to be overwhelmed in return.

Orioles All-Star third baseman Melvin Mora, one of Tejada's closest friends on the team, did not return a phone call last night. In The Sun's article on Thursday, Mora sided with his friend, saying that he didn't blame Tejada for being frustrated and that "we want the front office to do something."

In an interview on WBAL Radio yesterday, Mora acknowledged that he did speak to Tejada yesterday but didn't specifically address whether Tejada wants to be traded. Mora told the radio station that he is content in Baltimore and would like to stay here through next season, the last on Mora's contract.

At this point, the Orioles will settle for just hearing from their star player, whose demand for a trade to a reporter came out of nowhere, according to team officials. Two club officials said yesterday that when they first heard of Tejada's comments, they figured they were were taken out of context or just a result of frustration.

But the fact that Tejada didn't make a public comment yesterday - either reaffirming or backing down from the demand - and didn't return calls from either Perlozzo or Flanagan, doesn't support that theory.

"I know Miguel had a frustrating season as we all did. It was tough on everybody involved," Flanagan said. "But we are still going to do our best to improve our club."

Flanagan found the timing of Tejada's comments especially puzzling, considering that the Orioles reached a tentative agreement with free-agent catcher Ramon Hernandez on a four-year, $27.5 million deal. Hernandez is a former teammate of Tejada's in Oakland and is the godfather of Tejada's 6-year-old daughter, Alexa. Tejada is the godfather of one of Hernandez's kids.

Eric Goldschmidt, Hernandez's agent, said that the two players are friends and that one of the main reasons Hernandez, who arrives in Baltimore tomorrow and will have a physical Monday, signed with the Orioles was because Mora and Tejada were on the team.

Asked about Tejada's trade demand and the potential effect on Hernandez, Goldschmidt said, "I don't put any stock in third- or fourth-hand information."

Two team officials admitted that they are concerned about the timing of Tejada's comments and the result that they could have on any free agents wanting to sign with the Orioles. Though they acquired only two players at this week's baseball winter meetings - LaTroy Hawkins came in a trade with the San Francisco Giants for Steve Kline - club officials feel that the Orioles made progress in adding a couple more down the road.

"We worked our butts off down there, and I felt really good about it," Perlozzo said. "I understand the frustrations of a losing season, but I find it hard to believe that no one has seen the direction we are taking."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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