Team says latest remarks show stance unchanged

O's: Tejada is consistent

December 31, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY AND JEFF ZREBIEC | DAN CONNOLLY AND JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTERS

A day after star shortstop Miguel Tejada reiterated his desire to be traded, the Orioles' front office responded with little more than shrugs and headshakes.

"What he voiced in the interview [Thursday] is what he has been consistent with since [early] December," said club vice president Jim Duquette. "His opinion has not wavered."

Three weeks ago, Tejada told a reporter in his native Dominican Republic that he was tired of losing and wanted a "change of scenery." Thursday, he reiterated those desires to The Sun, saying "Next year, I want to be somewhere where they want to win. ... What have [the Orioles] done? Nothing."

Tejada said his disillusionment is growing because he thought his original comments would encourage the front office to improve the pitching staff. Now, the continued criticism may be Tejada's way of applying pressure for a trade out of Baltimore, where he signed a six-year, $72 million deal in December 2003.

"It has not forced our hand any," said Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan. "We're still talking to teams. I can't say it's winding down, picking up. It's been about the same."

Besides agitating several Orioles officials, Tejada's public stance may be counterproductive.

"I actually think in some ways, saying what he said publicly, it hurts our chances of trading him," Duquette said. "There is a perception in the marketplace that we now have to trade him and you'll take less than value for him.

"One thing we have been clear about is that we are not trading him unless we get value. No matter what he thinks or says, we will not trade him until we get value."

Tejada's agent, Diego Bentz, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Publicly, the Orioles say there is no rush to deal the former MVP, but privately at least one club official said the team would like to set a final deadline for trade offers within the next week and decide whether to keep or deal Tejada shortly thereafter.

Whether he stays or goes, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo would like a chance to hear Tejada's gripes first-hand. Perlozzo has twice left messages on Tejada's answering machine, but neither was returned. Since then, at least one of Tejada's Orioles teammates has left a message on the machine and almost immediately received a response from the shortstop.

"My frustration is that I wish Miggy would call me back," Perlozzo said. "My frustration comes in the fact that we don't need to discuss this in the media. I wish he'd call me so I could tell him what we want to do."

Perlozzo said he thought he and Tejada respected each other.

"Lord knows in two years we worked extremely hard together and ... I thought I had a good relationship with him. I wish I had an opportunity to" talk to him, the manager said.

Several members of the front office are planning a trip to the Dominican Republic in January and they could meet face-to-face with Tejada then, one club official said. Nothing has been set up, however, and the source said Tejada's situation might be resolved before the trip.

As for where the three-time All-Star will end up, Flanagan said, "I don't think there are any new teams coming in."

The most interested teams appear to be the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels. Boston is believed to have made the most intriguing offer so far, dangling outfielder Manny Ramirez and starting pitcher Matt Clement for Tejada.

But the Orioles are reluctant to trade their star within the division, and would likely demand more from their rivals.

Tejada said if he isn't traded, he will report to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for spring training on Feb. 21 along with other position players.

Perlozzo said he doesn't expect there would be a clubhouse chemistry problem if Tejada returns.

"There's 600 [major league] players every year that want to be traded to winning baseball teams and the fact is it's not always done," Perlozzo said. "Miggy is a professional player and I have no doubts he'll come in and play as hard as he can to help the team. That part I don't worry about."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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