New Mora deal nearly finished

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Sources say framework is done

3-year contract awaits approval

April 26, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

TORONTO -- Orioles officials and the agent for All-Star third baseman Melvin Mora have been mum about contract talks, but sources close to the negotiations said much of the framework to a three-year extension is complete.

The Orioles offered Mora a three-year deal worth $24 million several weeks ago. The two sides, according to sources, are finalizing an agreement based around that offer, with Mora having lowered his asking price of three years at $27 million.

Mora's agent, Lon Babby, and the Orioles still have to sign off on the deal, which could happen in a day or two. Mora also would have to take a physical for insurance purposes when the club returns from its road trip.

"I have a good feeling about it," said Mora, deflecting most questions to Babby and Orioles vice president Jim Duquette. "My agent can deal with my contract. I just have to deal with us winning."

News of Mora's impending contract extension was well-received by several Orioles, who consider him one of the backbones of the team and an important part of the club's future.

"It would have been disappointing if that didn't get worked out," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "He's too much a part of this organization to let him walk way. To show the city, the fans and the players that you want to keep a guy like him around, that's definitely a good sign."

Outfielder Jay Gibbons said extending Mora's contract was a no-brainer.

"If this does get done, it's a step in the right direction," Gibbons said. "He's a great talent and a great guy. ... Hopefully, Brian [Roberts] is next and we'll build around our key guys."

Ryan ready for O's

Speaking before last night's game, B.J. Ryan said he didn't expect to be any more emotional than usual in facing the Orioles.

"It's not like you want to go out there and prove something," said Ryan, the Toronto Blue Jays closer, who has three saves this season.

Ryan said that he talks often with Roberts and that he spoke to David Newhan recently to check up on the injured outfielder. However, he said he doesn't keep close tabs on how the Orioles are doing.

"It wasn't like I made the decision not to sign with the Orioles," said Ryan, who signed a five-year, $47 million deal with Toronto. "They made the decision not to bring me back. ... The guys were excited for me. They know that if you work hard, you put yourself in that situation [as a free agent], you have to take the opportunity."

The Orioles were excited to see their former teammate and held no grudges for him leaving.

"I know B.J. would have loved to stay, but you have to do what is best for your family," Roberts said.

Perlozzo, Tejada talk

Manager Sam Perlozzo said that he spoke to Miguel Tejada about the star shortstop's late arrival for Sunday's game at Yankees Stadium. Tejada entered the clubhouse about an hour before the scheduled first pitch, though the game was delayed 40 minutes because of rain. Tejada said that the weather factored in his late arrival.

"We handled it," said Perlozzo, whose rules stipulate that a player will be fined for being tardy. "We had a little discussion on things, but everything is fine. We handled it internally. We're on track."

Tejada was 4-for-4 and had all of the Orioles' hits in a 7-1 loss that day, becoming the first player to have at least four hits while the rest of his team had none since the Chicago Cubs' Billy Williams did it on Sept. 5, 1969.

Williams close to return

Reliever Todd Williams pitched one scoreless inning, striking out two, in his third rehab appearance last night for Double-A Bowie.

He has thrown three scoreless innings at Bowie after not pitching this spring because of shoulder and calf injuries.

Perlozzo said he expects the right-hander to rejoin the club soon, possibly later this week.

"We're going to evaluate him after [last night's] game," he said. "There is a chance he might need one more. If we get a reaction from him that he doesn't need one, then I guess he'll be ready for us."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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