Payton confident he'll get at-bats

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's, Bedard said to be near deal that would avert arbitration

February 17, 2007|By Roch Kubatko and Jeff Zrebiec | Roch Kubatko and Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporters

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Less than a month after the Orioles introduced free agent Jay Payton, they signed another one, Aubrey Huff, who is expected to make most of the starts in left field.

Knowing that the roster remained a work in progress, even after he agreed to terms, Payton never second-guessed his decision or felt betrayed. The at-bats will come, he figures, so why sweat it?

"I pretty much knew, even when they signed me, that they were probably going to go out and get another guy," said Payton, who reported to camp five days before position players are due.

"I know I'm not going to start 162 games, but I know my play is going to dictate how much playing time I get. And well it should. That's the way it works in this game. If you're playing well, you're going to play a good bit more. If you're not playing that well, you're not going to play as much. The good thing is, we've got some depth in here."

Payton needs to go back only to last season for assurances that he'll get on the field. Tabbed as a reserve with the Oakland Athletics, he ended up starting a team-leading 136 games in the outfield - 51 in left, 44 in center and 41 in right.

"They started out there trying to tab me as the fourth outfielder, and I was second on the team in plate appearances when the season ended," said Payton, who signed a two-year deal with the Orioles on Dec. 11. "I don't really try to get too caught up in the whole role thing. I know I'm going to be out there playing and contributing to the team, and I look forward to that."

Payton often will spell Corey Patterson in center against left-handed pitching - he could start Opening Day against the Minnesota Twins' Johan Santana - and occasionally will do the same in left when Huff moves to first base or serves as the designated hitter.

"I'm sure I'll spend a couple games in right field, too, before the year is over," Payton said. "That's just the nature of the game. Guys get injured and things happen. The good thing with me is I have the flexibility to play all three spots out there."

Payton was eager to get started this week, and not only because of his love for the game.

"It was getting a little cold in North Carolina, so I thought I'd come down here to some warm weather," he said. "It's a little chilly down here, but I'm anxious to get going. It's been a long offseason, and I'm ready to roll."

Bedard, O's said to be close

The Orioles are close to agreeing on a one-year deal with starting pitcher Erik Bedard, who would avoid salary arbitration, according to a baseball source. Bedard's arbitration date is Tuesday. He is asking for $4 million, while the Orioles are offering $2.7 million. The deal will be for approximately $3.5 million, according to the source. Bedard was 15-11 last year and is the likely Opening Day starter.

Trachsel in camp

Steve Trachsel reported to camp yesterday, coming straight from the airport, and threw on a back field behind a protective screen.

"It was a rush, rush type of deal," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He stepped on the mound, he got loose real quick and we're just happy to get him onto the mound. He did just what a professional, veteran guy does. He took his time, worked where he wanted to throw the ball, controlled his effort and got his work in."

Acevedo out for season

Pitcher Jose Acevedo, who received a nonroster invitation to spring training, broke four ribs and his collarbone yesterday in a motorcycle accident and is expected to miss the season, his Dominican winter league team said.

Acevedo was conscious and in intensive care yesterday, Aguilas Cibaenas executive Luichy Sanchez told the Associated Press.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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