Tejada gladly stays

`Happy here,' shortstop refocuses on O's winning

The Reaction

The Trade That Wasn't


At 4:10 yesterday afternoon, not long after the non-waiver trade deadline expired, Miguel Tejada walked into the clubhouse that he said he never wanted to leave. He was wearing a red T-shirt, gray basketball shorts and a smile that has been missing at times during the past year.

Tejada greeted Ramon Hernandez before arriving at his locker. As several of his Orioles teammates called his name, Tejada turned to Kevin Millar and said, "Give me a hug, Millar."

For several days, Millar and Tejada had joked about where each of them would be playing after the trade deadline. Tejada had insisted all along - taking a different stance than he did in December when he shocked the organization by requesting a trade - that he wanted to stay in Baltimore. Tejada watched the deadline come and go without being traded.

"I'm really happy here," Tejada said. "All those comments from the offseason are gone, in my mind. I'm really happy with my teammates that I have here, and I'm really happy that the team kept me here. I told them before that I don't want to go anywhere. If I'm going to win, I want to win here. Now, they show me they really want to win. They kept me here. Now, we're going to finish these two months strong and come back with a better team."

Despite mulling over several attractive offers, including one in which the club would have acquired Houston ace Roy Oswalt before the Astros took him off the table, the Orioles decided to keep the All-Star shortstop, who they signed to a six-year deal in 2003 with the intention of building the franchise around him.

In fact, the Orioles didn't make any moves before the non-waiver trade deadline, holding on to several veterans, including Jeff Conine, Rodrigo Lopez, Javy Lopez and LaTroy Hawkins. Orioles vice president Jim Duquette admitted that he was surprised that the club "didn't do anything." The Orioles still could trade those players if they pass through waivers and several club officials said that they think they all could.

It, however, was no upset that the Orioles held on to Tejada as club owner Peter Angelos maintained all along that the team would have to be blown away by an offer. Executive vice president Mike Flanagan said that the Orioles never came close enough to Tejada to present a deal to ownership.

"The bottom line is, from the beginning we have said that Miguel Tejada is a very important player to us," Flanagan said. "When we signed Miguel a couple years back, he was to be the centerpiece of the organization. We feel that he is an MVP player, one of the premium players in the game."

Several Orioles said that they were glad that Tejada was not dealt. "Everybody is happy," said third baseman Melvin Mora. "If you trade that guy, how are you going to win?"

Mora said Tejada told the team about a month ago that he wanted to stay. Duquette said that the front office was also told the same thing.

"I didn't sleep pretty good last night, just because I was thinking that yesterday could've been my last game here," Tejada said. "I'm happy to walk back into the clubhouse. I'm happy to get dressed in an Orioles' uniform. One thing I just want to [do] is thank Peter Angelos for keeping me here. Now, I think he's believing in me, that I can help the team to win later on."

Tejada also said that he has no plans to request a trade again. "That's not going to come out of my mouth," he vowed.

Still, as long as the Orioles are struggling, Tejada's name figures to be rampant in trade rumors. The Orioles insist that no matter what happens the last two months of the season, they have no plans to shop the shortstop this offseason. But with the organization intent on keeping its young pitching, the front office also knows that trading Tejada would be the surest way to get several pieces in return.

"It's hard to predict," Duquette said. "I think a lot of the work we've done the last two weeks or so may materialize after the waiver deadline or may materialize after the offseason. But this specifically, I wouldn't be able to predict."

With the trade deadline gone, Tejada can now focus on helping the Orioles turn things around.

"I want to win," he said. "That's what I ask. Right now, we've got a lot of young guys. In a couple of years, we're going to have a great team."


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