ANAHEIM, Calif. - Mark Teixeira, the Los Angeles Angels first baseman and Severna Park native, has been asked about playing for his hometown Orioles since he has been in the big leagues, and his answer has never changed.
"It's always something that would be very special to me," Teixeira (Mount St. Joseph) said yesterday. "But like I said, in a couple months, when the season's over, I'll sit down and make those decisions."
Teixeira, whom the Angels acquired from the Atlanta Braves last week, is eligible for free agency after the season, and he isn't interested in discussing his options until then, so the Orioles talk will have to wait.
"I'm so focused on winning here with the Angels that I've put off all the free-agent talk for the end of the season," Teixeira said. "For me and my teammates, that's the best thing to do."
It is expected the Orioles will at least make a run at the Gold Glove first baseman, though whether they'll be willing to match his asking price remains to be seen. Teixeira reportedly will seek a 10-year deal worth approximately $20 million a season.
His price tag certainly doesn't figure to be an issue for Orioles fans, who have been long clamoring for Teixeira to return home and become the face of the franchise and the power-hitting first baseman the club has lacked. One such fan even posted a petition on the Web site www.bringmarkhome.withthispetition.com.
"It's great to hear that the fans of Baltimore want a winner, because they're great fans. I was one of them for a long time," Teixeira said. "I think it would probably be different if the Orioles had won a lot recently, but with the dominance of the Yankees and Red Sox, those fans are just hungry."
Teixeira said he initially had mixed feelings about being traded for the second year in a row. The Texas Rangers dealt him to the Braves before last year's trade deadline.
"It's good and bad," he said. "The great thing is on the field, I keep getting traded to a better situation. Last year, we were so close with the Braves and couldn't get over the hump. This year, I went to the team with the best record in baseball. That's nice, but it's tough having to move your family so much."
When Chris Waters entered the Orioles' clubhouse yesterday, there was a lineup card, several game balls and a note written by manager Dave Trembley waiting for him. Moments later, Orioles scout Dave Engle approached him and handed him a ticket stub from Tuesday's game, telling the pitcher it was the best first start he has seen in 31 years in professional baseball.
In his major league debut, the left-hander, 27, held the Angels to one hit over eight shutout innings of the Orioles' 3-0 victory.
"It's a blessing," Waters said. "It was a huge thing in my life, right next to my two children being born."
Waters said his voice mail was filled with messages for the first time in his life and he finally had to turn his phone off to get some sleep. And another first came when Waters left the stadium and met his parents outside.
"My mom, she cried, and I've never seen my dad cry ever, until last night," he said.
On comeback trail
Trembley said reliever Chris Ray, who had ligament-reconstruction surgery on his right elbow in August, could be cleared to pitch in a couple of games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in a couple of weeks. However, he doesn't foresee him pitching in the majors this year.
"I know he hasn't written himself off, but myself, personally - and I'm not speaking for [club president] Andy MacPhail and I'm not speaking for Chris Ray - I don't know the benefit of what could be gained by bringing him back to the big leagues for a week or so in September," Trembley said. "I think the conservative approach is a lot more wise."
Around the horn
On Tuesday, Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan met with Marc Agar, the agent for first-round draft pick Brian Matusz, but Jordan said yesterday that nothing has changed in the negotiations. ... Aubrey Huff extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a fourth-inning single yesterday. ... Trembley said before the game that he hasn't heard any discussions about bringing up top prospect Matt Wieters when rosters expand in September. "That decision to bring him up is totally Andy MacPhail's," Trembley said. ... Trembley said Triple-A Norfolk starter Hayden Penn will get "strong consideration" if a spot in the rotation opens up. ... Gregg Olson will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in pre-game ceremonies Saturday. Longtime traveling secretary Phil Itzoe and the late William "Wild Bill" Hagy will also be honored.