Irked to still be an Oriole, J. Lopez asks for release

Left Out

The Trade That Wasn't


While the Orioles' biggest star was excited about not being dealt at yesterday's non-waiver trade deadline, another one of the club's most expensive players was far from thrilled.

Designated hitter Javy Lopez said he was hoping he would learn that he'd be shipped off to a place where he could catch full time - or at least more than he is doing with the Orioles.

Instead, the trade deadline came and went, and Lopez - like All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada - remained in the Orioles' clubhouse. More disappointing for him, he's also staying on the bench, where he has been relegated now that Jay Gibbons is back in the lineup but unable to play the outfield.

"I think that what makes more sense at the moment would be to put me on waivers so I can play somewhere else," said Lopez, who lost his starting catcher's job when Ramon Hernandez was signed as a free agent in December. "That way the team would have less headaches in putting the lineup together every day and I'd be more comfortable playing somewhere else instead of once a week here."

Lopez, who has eight homers and 31 RBIs in 75 games, has started two of the past six games. He expressed his displeasure with what he believes is a failure by the front office and manager Sam Perlozzo to explain his role.

"It is uncomfortable the fact that you don't hear anything. Communication in this organization is very, very poor," Lopez said. "You have no idea what is happening. And the reason why you are not playing for a while they don't even give you a heads-up to tell you what's going on."

When informed of Lopez's comments and his interest in being released, Orioles vice president Jim Duquette seemed surprised.

"If he wants to give back his salary, we would be happy to release him, but that's not anything we would expect him to do," Duquette said. "We are paying him [$8.5] million. We expect him to play as Sam decides to use him. It's pretty cut and dried."

If the Orioles were to put Lopez on waivers and he were not claimed, the team would have to pick up the approximately $3 million remaining on a three-year, $22.5 million contract signed before the 2004 season. That's something they don't want to do.

Instead, they have attempted to trade Lopez - offering to pick up a majority of his salary - and couldn't find a taker. Duquette said he even took the unusual step of allowing Lopez's agent to look for a trade partner and was unsuccessful.

Because Lopez likely would pass through waivers unclaimed, the Orioles could continue to try to deal him during the last two months of the season, Duquette said.

Gibbons has told Perlozzo he would platoon with Lopez if desired, but the club prefers to keep Gibbons' bat in the lineup as much as possible.

"[Lopez] is going to get some at-bats," Perlozzo said. "I doubt Gibby's going to be able to go every day. We'll do the best we can."

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