Despite a new $4 million contract and a spot as the Orioles' primary designated hitter, Luke Scott is heading into the spring with a familiar mind-set.
He's working out feverishly, he wants to play every day - and he'd still prefer not to be a full-time DH.
"Absolutely, I want to be able to play defense," said Scott, who avoided arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a one-year, $4.05 million deal with the Orioles. "If it were up to me, I'd DH two or three times a week and play in the field wherever they needed me. That would be optimal. I'd be off my feet some and stay fresher longer. I'd play left field and first base and DH. That'd be great."
But with the emergence of left fielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie and the signing of Garrett Atkins, who likely will play first for the Orioles in 2010, Scott, at least initially, will be the club's primary designated hitter again.
"I don't think I have ever had a season that went the way I wanted it to," said Scott, during a break Wednesday from his offseason training program in Edmond, Okla. "But what I have shown on my part is that I have done anything any organization has asked me to do. And I have done it in a professional way."
Last season, Scott played 89 games at DH, 26 in left and 10 at first base. He led the Orioles with 25 homers and was third in RBIs with 77, though his production dropped sharply in the second half - he hit .208 after batting .305 before the All-Star break.
Once Aubrey Huff was traded to the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 17, Scott was expected to get an extended look at first base. The experiment lasted eight games, ending Sept. 11. Instead, he went back to left field after Pie and Reimold were shut down with injuries. He would like to get more consistent playing time at first base this spring.
"I have played very good defense all of my career," he said. "Why I am DHing is because I was asked to take one for the team. That's the truth. It doesn't help me in my own personal deals, in contract negotiations, it hurts me. ... But I am being a team player. That's not bragging; that is the truth."
In his second year of arbitration eligibility, Scott received a $1.65 million raise. He said he decided to agree to terms Tuesday instead of pushing for a larger raise because he felt it was "good for me and good for the Orioles."
At age 31 and with two more years of arbitration looming with the continually rebuilding Orioles, Scott has been included in trade rumors this offseason. He has been dealt twice in his career and said he doesn't let the trade talk bother him.
"If I don't fit into the team's plans, they can get someone that is either a better fit or a different part of the puzzle that they need. That's their decision," he said. "I hope I am in the future plans of the Orioles. I do like Baltimore, the city, and I love the fans."
Bergesen on the mend
Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen has been throwing pain-free off flat ground for several weeks and hopes to have at least 10 extended mound sessions before spring training starts.
"It's just a normal offseason for me at this point," said Bergesen, who suffered a bruised left shin when he was hit with a line drive by the Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler on July 30.
"It took forever just to get that thing back to 100 percent. It is now, but it was pretty frustrating to deal with. It finally feels good not to have to worry about it in the back of your mind. I have been full-bore for a long time. It's to the point where it's back to where it was before it ever happened."
Bergesen is convinced he had a small stress fracture that went undetected by CT scans and magnetic resonance imagings. The injury ended an impressive rookie season in which he went 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA.
Last year, Bergesen, 24, entered the spring hoping to impress manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz.
"In talking with Kranny and Dave, they've basically told me it's a different year for me," Bergesen said. "It's not, 'You're coming in for a tryout.' Not that anything is guaranteed, but it's more, 'Make sure you come in healthy.' It's taken out the stress of thinking I might not have a spot. But I'm coming in with the same mentality. I want to kind of re-earn a job this year."
Guthrie not alone
Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who was 10-17 with a 5.04 ERA in 200 innings last season, isn't the only starter involved in a first-time arbitration case.
"This time is particularly unique because there are several salary-arbitration eligible starters in Jeremy's [first-year] class," said Guthrie's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen. "A couple have reached settlements, and now we might have a clearer picture as to what Jeremy's value looks like in the future."
Guthrie is seeking $3.625 million while the Orioles are countering with $2.3 million. If the sides don't settle, a hearing will be held between Feb. 1 and Feb. 19.