Tejada, O's talk

Offers roll in, but club wants All-Star to drop trade demand

J. Lopez irked

Orioles

December 11, 2005|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

The Orioles have received several inquiries about shortstop Miguel Tejada, but at this point, the club's focus is on persuading the All-Star to back off his trade demand.

Orioles officials spoke to Tejada at around 8:30 last night after they spent most of the day talking with Tejada's representatives, Diego Bentz and Fernando Cuza.

"We have spoken to Miguel Tejada and his representatives," executive vice president Mike Flanagan said. "We have spoken to his representatives for the better part of the day, and the only way we can categorize it at this time is that Miguel wants to win."

Asked if he was given the impression that Tejada feels that he can win in Baltimore, Flanagan declined to comment.

He also declined to offer any specifics on the talks and wouldn't say if anybody else was involved in the phone conversations. He described the talks as ongoing. Bentz declined to comment.

Though Flanagan wouldn't say if he is more optimistic after talking to Tejada, the fact that they got in touch with the player, who hadn't spoken to team officials since telling an Associated Press reporter Thursday that he would benefit from a "change of scenery," at least gives the Orioles a reason to be optimistic.

Flanagan and the Orioles have several things on their plate, including the status of catcher Javy Lopez, whose agent said yesterday that he, too, wouldn't object to a trade. But the Orioles spent most of the day trying to convince the agents of their most celebrated player that the organization is headed in the right direction.

The Orioles have gotten calls from at least eight teams about Tejada, according to industry sources. One of those teams is the shortstop-less Boston Red Sox, who reportedly have offered All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez for Tejada.

The Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs are also among the teams believed to be interested.

Asked about a Ramirez-Tejada swap, a high-ranking Orioles official said, "It's not going to happen."

While the Orioles-Tejada standoff lingers, the club still has to decide what to do with Lopez, who will be pushed out of his every-day catcher position by the Ramon Hernandez signing expected this week.

"We've had discussions with Javy and we want him on this team," Flanagan said.

Chuck Berry, Lopez's agent, met with Orioles officials at the winter meetings Wednesday, when Hernandez's four-year, $27.5 million deal was quickly becoming a formality. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo also spoke to Lopez recently, but the catcher remains uninterested in a new role.

"Javy was signed as a catcher, he has played his entire career as a catcher, he's in the last year of his contract assuming he was a catcher," Berry said. "It is a shock to him to have this happen. He's not real happy with this situation."

With Hernandez, who will have a physical tomorrow, on board, Lopez would likely play some at first base, designated hitter and backup catcher. That's not a situation he would endorse, especially not as the 35-year-old heads into the last year of his contract.

"We have requested over the last couple of years that Javy gets an opportunity to play a little first base figuring that would be a logical development for him as he gets older," Berry said. "But he never got that opportunity. For them to all of a sudden say they want him to play first base, DH and a little bit of catcher, that's not something that he is too thrilled about."

The Orioles talked to the Angels about a Lopez-Darin Erstad swap, but those talks have cooled. Berry said Lopez enjoys playing here and has no intention of demanding a trade. However, at this point, the former All-Star catcher feels it might be the best option.

"There are several months between now and spring training," Berry said. "One of the ways things can certainly work out is a trade. They realize it is a difficult situation. I have nothing against Mike Flanagan. Javy likes Sam Perlozzo and was very happy to have him as a manager. These things have a way of working themselves out. For right now, we'll see what happens. They certainly have a lot to do."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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