Tejada is Most Valuable Oriole

BASEBALL COLUMN

`City deserves ... a winning team,' says shortstop, selected by media

September 25, 2006|By Roch Kubatko and Jeff Zrebiec | Roch Kubatko and Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporters

On the same day that Miguel Tejada was named Most Valuable Oriole and homered twice, the shortstop offered his employers a little advice.

"I think if this team wants to win," he said, "the last thing they should do is trade me."

Tejada, who suggested last winter that a change of scenery would be beneficial, noted that he has three years remaining on his contract. He also praised the young talent on the ballclub. But the bottom line always will be about winning.

"I like to play every day for something," he said. "I love baseball, but at the same time, I love winning. They know that, and everybody in this room wants to win.

"The fans have already shown that they are tired of losing. They want somebody to make a great team. This city deserves to have a winning team. It's a great baseball city. We are 20 games back and they keep coming to the games."

Tejada was voted MVO for the second time in three seasons by members of the media who cover the team. He leads the club in batting, home runs and RBIs.

"I didn't think I would get it," he said. "I think Ramon [Hernandez] and [Nick] Markakis, they did so good this year. Especially Ramon. He's been catching the whole year. And [Erik] Bedard did a good job. It's great to have those guys on my team. I hope next year somebody else gets it."

Tejada homered yesterday for the first time since Aug. 20, connecting in the fourth and sixth innings with the bases empty. He had gone 120 consecutive at-bats without one, the longest stretch of his career.

Tejada the salesman

Tejada and pending free agent Alfonso Soriano have the same agent, Diego Benz. And Tejada is willing to give a sales pitch if necessary.

"If the Orioles are interested in him and he's interested ... I'll talk to him about how good the city is, how good the team is, how good the clubhouse is," Tejada said.

"I can tell him that we have a bunch of great guys here, the city is great, the fans are great. That's all I can tell him, and he has to decide what he is going to do."

Concerned for safety

Jay Gibbons' wife, Laura, returned to Camden Yards yesterday after being hit by a foul ball in the ninth inning of Saturday's game. The liner came off Gibbons' bat, increasing his anger and frustration at the Orioles for not making conditions safer at Camden Yards.

"It's something you think about every day here," he said. "Obviously it's something I've talked about and it's fallen on deaf ears. It's one of those things where I've got players coming to me every day saying one of their family members got hit or almost got hit."

Gibbons, the Orioles' player representative, complained to vice president Jim Duquette after Saturday's game. Duquette likely will relay Gibbons' concerns to majority owner Peter Angelos.

The Orioles either want a taller screen behind home plate or a net over it to protect the family section.

A net cover was installed when the ballpark opened in 1992, but it was removed after an exhibition game because it obstructed the press box view.

"Our ballpark operations staff is aware of the situation and has done studies in recent years, analyzing the location of foul balls," a team spokesman said. "Roger Hayden, our director of ballpark operations, told me they would take another look at the data."

Laura Gibbons didn't require medical attention beyond a visit to the first-aid station.

Chris Gomez's wife, Margarita, was hit last year, and he discourages his family from attending games. The Orioles don't provide day care at Camden Yards.

Said Gibbons: "It's either come to the games and play Russian Roulette with your 3-year-old or stay at home.

"One of these days, someone's going to get hurt real bad."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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