Trachsel says goodbye to `fun' clubhouse

Veteran starter dealt to Cubs in return for two minor leaguers

September 01, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

BOSTON -- Steve Trachsel has pitched in the big leagues for 15 seasons, but he said the Orioles' clubhouse was probably the "most fun" of any he has been in. So when he stopped by Fenway Park yesterday to pack up and said goodbye to his former teammates, he went locker to locker shaking hands and accepting congratulations.

The Orioles yesterday traded the veteran starter to a team in the middle of a pennant race, sending him to the Chicago Cubs for two minor leaguers -- third baseman Scott Moore and right-handed reliever Rocky Cherry, who have both spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa.

Moore and Cherry are expected to be in uniform when rosters are eligible to expand tonight. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he has told Moore that he'll start at third base tonight in place of Melvin Mora.

"As [Trachsel] continued to pitch well through the month, it became clear that I had the opportunity to get some players that I thought were important for us to add to the inventory and give us some flexibility going forward -- some young players with limited service that would possibly fit some of the things we were trying to do for the future," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said.

Several teams, including the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, were interested in Trachsel, 36, whose stock rose after he went 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in six August starts.

The Cubs, the team Trachsel was drafted by and played for during parts of his first seven big league seasons, made an offer that prompted MacPhail to pull the trigger. MacPhail was familiar with the Cubs' farm system after serving as their club president from 1994 to 2006.

"I'm excited. I'm surprised, mostly," said Trachsel, who went 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 starts for the Orioles. "I know it's been talked about and talked about, but you never expect anything to happen. It's a good situation over there, obviously. It's going to be fun. I spent six years there. I definitely have a pretty good idea on how crazy it's going to be and I understand all the other stuff that comes with it."

Trachsel said it's tough to leave the Orioles, who signed him to a one-year, $3.1 million deal with a 2008 option only a day before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training and after they learned that Kris Benson would likely have season-ending elbow surgery.

Trachsel was one of the Orioles' most effective pitchers early, going 1-2 with a 4.13 ERA in April and 3-1 with a 2.84 ERA in May. After struggling in June and July and going to the disabled list at one point with a strained gluteus, the right-hander had a strong August. Overall, he allowed three earned runs or fewer in 17 of 25 starts.

The Orioles haven't ruled out trying to sign the pitcher for next year if the Cubs don't pick up Trachsel's $4.75 million option for next season.

"Andy said that, too: `You never know what's going to happen,' " Trachsel said. "I'll keep all my doors open. You never say no to anything. I certainly enjoyed it and liked this clubhouse."

Moore, 23, who was the eighth overall pick by the Detroit Tigers in the 2002 draft, hit .265 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs for Triple-A Iowa this season. He appeared in two games for the Cubs and went hitless in five plate appearances. He played 16 games for the Cubs last season, hitting .263 with two homers and five RBIs. He was named the seventh-best prospect in the Cubs system by Baseball America after last season.

Cherry, 28, was 2-0 with a 4.59 ERA and seven saves in 43 games for Triple-A Iowa this season. He also made 12 relief appearances for the Cubs, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Cherry was named to the Southern League All-Star team in 2006, going 4-1 with two saves and a 2.22 ERA for Double-A West Tennessee.

The Orioles consulted bullpen coach Alan Dunn, who was the minor league pitching coordinator for the Cubs, before making the deal. The Orioles are hoping Cherry will buoy the beleaguered middle relief corps.

"In the past, he's been a guy that has done a good job of throwing strikes," Dunn said. "He attacks the zone. When everything is clicking, his slider is his bread and butter pitch. He'll pitch anywhere from 90 to 94."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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