Some O's support Tejada

Orioles notebook

Roberts, Gibbons say shortstop was speaking out of frustration


Both Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons and second baseman Brian Roberts admitted yesterday that they were surprised at Miguel Tejada's public request for a "change of scenery" earlier this month.

But both also said that they expect the All-Star and former American League Most Valuable Player to remain with the franchise. Roberts, who is one of Tejada's closest friends on the Orioles, said that he talked to the disgruntled shortstop about a week ago and came away thinking that Tejada was simply speaking out of frustration.

"He said, 'I just want to win. If they are committed to winning, then I want to be here,"' said Roberts. "And I said: 'You know what? That's your right." I can't hold that against him. I think he also understands that he signed a contract to come here and play, and he wants to win here.

"I don't think he wants to back out. Miggy is not a quitter. I got the feeling that yes, he's frustrated and maybe he shouldn't have said it, but I think he wanted to know where we're headed."

The Orioles haven't spoken to Tejada's representatives since last week and the club appears determined to keep its franchise player, unless they are completely overwhelmed by a deal. They remain in talks with a couple of teams, including the Chicago Cubs, about Tejada.

Meanwhile, Gibbons, who said that he fully expects to "play with Miggy this year." and Roberts pledged their support to the player, while acknowledging that they trust the front office to assemble a winning team.

"We have to get better, obviously." said Gibbons. "This is my sixth year here, and you want to be at the top. It's not fun watch ing teams on TV at the end of the year. But it's not like we are not trying to do things. Since I've been here, I think this is [the] most we"ve done in trying to sign guys."

Said Roberts: "All of us pay attention to what's going on in the offseason and when we see one of our teammates go somewhere else, we all get frustrated. But you also understand that there has to be a plan."

Roberts said that if the Orioles traded Tejada, "it would put a littler damper on things' for him personally.

"I love playing beside him." Roberts said. "Miggy brings out the best in a lot of guys. He certainly helped do that for me."

Deadline nears

The Orioles are close to finalizing one-year deals with outfield er David Newhan, catcher Geronimo Gil and reliever John Parrish, avoiding the possibility of salary arbitration with each.

"I am ecstatic." said Newhan. 'I love the organization. It's been pretty much my main home in the big leagues. I've just been training, and I want to come back strong."

Today is the last day for teams to offer '06 contracts to unsigned players. The Orioles have 12 players who could be eligible for arbitration, including Roberts, Gibbons, Jorge Julio, Luis Matos, Bruce Chen, Rodrigo Lopez and Erik Bedard.

Conine talks slow

The Orioles are still believed to be the front-runner for Florida Marlins free agent Jeff Conine, but they have been unable to close the deal.

The talks between the two sides have slowed as Michael Watkins, Conine's agent, is dealing with a personal matter. Orioles officials are hopeful they will have him signed before the weekend.

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