Tejada's demand: I want to win

Shortstop says O's need `better team'

Baseball

December 12, 2005|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

The Orioles' standoff with Miguel Tejada reached a third day, as the All-Star shortstop spoke publicly for the first time since suggesting he would benefit from a change of scenery.

In an interview with Comcast SportsNet, Tejada said he never asked for a trade, but he wants to win immediately.

"I never said I wanted to be traded; I said I want to see a better team," said Tejada, who spoke via phone from the Dominican Republic. "I don't want to keep losing like we have the past two years. Look at the division we're in. It's not easy to win without pitching. It's the hardest division in baseball with the Yankees and Red Sox. And look at what Toronto is doing with their pitching staff. They're going to be tough."

The comments appear to contradict what he and his representatives have been telling the Orioles all along. According to team sources, Tejada and his agents haven't backed off the trade demands in conversations with the club, which is why the two sides remain in talks and no resolution has been reached.

Executive vice president Mike Flanagan has been mum about the conversations, but he did acknowledge that the goal is to "try to talk [Tejada] into playing for the Baltimore Orioles," and "nothing has changed," since the talks began.

Orioles officials spoke with Tejada's agents, Diego Bentz and Fernando Cuza, again yesterday after talking with them extensively Saturday, but "there was no progress in our talks," Flanagan said.

Club officials also talked directly to Tejada on Saturday night, the first time since he told an Associated Press reporter, "Things haven't gone in the direction that we were expecting, so I think the best thing will be a change of scenery."

As of last night, Flanagan said there were no talks scheduled for today, but he expected to speak to Tejada's representatives at some point.

"We certainly don't control the timing of this," said Flanagan, who denied the conversations with Tejada's camp are hindering other pursuits in trades and free agency. "We're just talking about things in general."

Flanagan and other team officials reiterated last night that the goal is to keep Tejada in Baltimore. However, about eight clubs, according to team sources, have called the Orioles and inquired about the former Most Valuable Player's availability.

No concrete offers have been made, said the source, but the Orioles have talked to several clubs and got a feel for what they could be offering. The Angels, Cubs and Red Sox are among the teams that are believed to have called the Orioles, who would be charging an "enormous price," according to a high-ranking team official.

The official also maintained the club wouldn't do a straight-up Tejada-for-Manny Ramirez swap, and trading their shortstop to the Red Sox for any package would be "the last resort."

In a conversation with club officials Saturday night, Tejada maintained he "wants to be on a winner," according to a team source. That was obvious again in his comments yesterday.

"I think they've got to make some moves," Tejada told Comcast SportsNet. "That's why I'm upset. I hope the fans won't be mad at me, but I think me speaking up might actually help the team get better. I'm speaking for every player on this team. I don't want to play just for money, but to be competitive. I love baseball more than the money."

Tejada added: "I'm not saying I don't like the team or the city. If they trade me, I don't want people to think I just want to go to a winning team. I just want the organization to do something - go get pitching. If they don't, they're telling me they don't want to win. ... I don't want to take anything away from the pitchers we have, but we need more. We need an ace."

Flanagan agrees the club needs to make some additions. He hopes to put the Tejada situation behind him shortly and have his All-Star shortstop in place.

"I think we feel like we have made progress and we will continue to try and better the club, and we will," Flanagan said. "Our desire and Miguel's desire is the same. We've worked hard all winter to try and improve the club, and we will continue to work hard. That was the goal this winter, and that hasn't changed. We want to be winners, too. That focus has not changed."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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