C. Gomez makes return to Orioles

baseball notes

17-year veteran agrees to minor league deal in hopes of getting on roster as utility man

January 10, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

The Orioles have agreed to a minor league deal with utility infielder Chris Gomez, bringing the veteran back to the organization after a year's absence.

Gomez, who received an invitation to major league spring training, will be given every opportunity to make the Opening Day roster. The Orioles were looking for a utility man who can play all the infield positions, including shortstop. Ryan Freel, whom the Orioles acquired from the Cincinnati Reds in the Ramon Hernandez deal, also will occupy a utility role.

"I don't want to jump to conclusions," said Gomez, 37, who has played 17 major league seasons. "Obviously, I have to make the team. But I think it will be similar to what I was doing when I was there before. Maybe, there will be a little more shortstop involved since Miguel Tejada is not there, playing every day."

Gomez, a career .262 hitter, played last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting .273 with one homer and 20 RBIs over 90 games. He played for the Orioles for parts of three seasons before being claimed off waivers in August 2007 by the Cleveland Indians. Gomez said several teams expressed interest in him, but the opportunity with the Orioles was especially enticing because of his familiarity with manager Dave Trembley, hitting coach Terry Crowley and several members of the front office.

"Baltimore is attractive because the people know me there," Gomez said. "Going there as a nonroster situation, I like that. I'm going to a team where people know me. That's kind of comforting knowing that those people are there. I know there are no guarantees. You just try to read the situation as best as you can, and you know that you have a good chance of being on the club. That's all you can ask for.

"I like playing in Baltimore; I like playing in the American League East. I am happy to be back in the American League. I love living in the Inner Harbor. That will all be great."

Drug testing: : Baseball authorized nearly 8 percent of its players to use drugs for ADHD last season, which allowed them to take otherwise banned stimulants.

A total of 106 exemptions for banned drugs were given to major leaguers claiming attention deficit hyperactivity disorder from the end of the 2007 season until the end of the 2008 season, according to a report released by the sport's independent drug-testing administrator. That's up from 103 in 2007.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates 3 percent to 5 percent of children have ADHD.

There were a total of 19 positives from 3,486 drug tests, according to the report. There were 14 positives for banned stimulants.

Obituary: : Dave Roberts, a left-hander who pitched for the 1979 World Series champion Pirates during a 13-year career in the majors, died of lung cancer at his home in Short Gap, W.Va. He was 64.

Roberts went 103-125 with a 3.78 ERA for eight teams, beginning in 1969 with the Padres and ending in 1981 with the Mets.

Et cetera: : Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Padres ace Jake Peavy are among 22 U.S. players who have expressed interest in and are being considered for the second World Baseball Classic, which begins in March. ... The Mets neared agreement with right-hander Tim Redding on a one-year contract worth about $2.25 million, two people familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. ... The Red Sox finalized a one-year contract worth about $5 million with pitcher Brad Penny.

Sun news services contributed to this article.

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