Mora cuts off negotiations

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Third baseman: Unsettled contract will not affect on-field performance

April 06, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER AND JEFF ZREBIEC | CHILDS WALKER AND JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTERS

Melvin Mora's agent, Lon Babby, said the third baseman has cut off negotiations on a contract extension with the Orioles until after the season.

"We've worked at if for four months and not enough progress was made to continue those discussions," Babby said. "We've tried hard and haven't been able to reach agreement."

Mora is seeking $27 million over three years. The club is offering $24 million over three years with an option for a fourth that could be bought out at $1 million.

"Melvin's feeling was he wanted to concentrate on the season, and we understand that," said Orioles vice president Jim Duquette.

"I'm fine," Mora said yesterday, flashing a big grin. He said he's looking forward to controlling his destiny in free agency. Asked if he'd consider Baltimore after the season, he replied, "I don't know," and smiled wide again.

"I just want to go play baseball," he said.

Mora said the unsettled contract won't make him tight this season, because he's used to playing before passionate audiences in New York and in his home country, Venezuela.

"I hit .300 in the spring," he said with a dismissive look. "You play in a place like Venezuela and you have no more pressure playing anywhere else."

The third baseman had said all along that he didn't want negotiations to drag into the season.

Babby said he would talk to the Orioles after the season during the free negotiating window teams have with their free agents.

When asked about the prospects for signing Mora after the season, Duquette said, "It's so hard to predict at this point. We know his desire is still to stay here and our desire is to keep him."

The team with many outfields

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo stuck to his word and shuffled his outfield last night. Jeff Conine and Luis Matos, who both homered on Opening Day, sat. Rookie Nick Markakis started in left and batted second while Corey Patterson started in center and batted ninth.

Both bat left-handed and Perlozzo said that with right-hander Seth McClung starting for Tampa Bay, the moves seemed natural.

"They're all on the team. They're all gonna have to play somehow," he said.

But he hopes the lineup will stabilize as the season goes on.

"It's OK to platoon in one or two spots max, but if you try to do it at four or five positions throughout the year, that's a little bit difficult," the manager said.

Patterson was looking for a fresh start in Baltimore. He might not have imagined that rebirth beginning on the bench, but he said he'd make the most of whatever time he receives.

"I'll just do the best I can and play those nine innings or whatever as hard as I can and have fun," he said. "That's the attitude I'll take."

Patterson went 0-for-4 last night.

Signings

The Orioles are expected to announce this week the signings of outfielder Luis Terrero and reliever Matt Perisho to minor league deals.

Terrero, 25, was cut by the Arizona Diamondbacks at the end of spring training. He hit .230 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 88 games for Arizona last season. The center fielder is fast but has never hit for much power. His best season came in 2003 for Triple-A Tucson, where he hit .287 with 46 RBIs and 23 steals.

Perisho, 30, has pitched for five teams in eight seasons, posting a 6.39 ERA in 177 appearances. The left-hander had a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings for Florida and Boston last season. The Orioles have been searching for another left-hander to plug into their bullpen.

Around the horn

Javy Lopez started at designated hitter again last night, but Perlozzo said he will try Lopez at first base soon. ... Kevin Millar yesterday distributed black-and-orange T-shirts bearing his familiar "Cowboy Up" slogan to his new teammates.

childs.walker@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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