Orioles hoping Tejada will stay in Baltimore
Angered over the team's inability to garner additional talent this offseason, Tejada has twice expressed his desire to be traded. The Orioles, however, have no intention of giving away a three-time All-Star entering the third season of a six-year, $72 million contract.
"What we're doing is looking for a fair and reasonable return," executive vice president Mike Flanagan said Saturday. "If we can't get back what is fair, we're not going to trade him. He's a guy that's under a long-term contract with us, a targeted player, a terrific player. We're just not going to do something for the sake of doing something."
Flanagan, first-year manager Sam Perlozzo and more than a dozen players showed up at the Convention Center for FanFest, an annual offseason event that drew more than 10,000 Orioles backers.
Tejada was not in the building, but he was the main topic of conversation.
"I totally believe we're not getting the whole picture from Miggy. He's a great kid, he's always been a great kid," Perlozzo said. "I can't believe the faucet went from on to off just like that."
Tejada has refused to return phone calls from Perlozzo, but the manager still has hope that the troubling affair will be rectified by the time the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 21.
"Sometimes Miggy gets into situations where he says something he doesn't mean and doesn't know how to get out of it. I'm hoping this is that kind of situation," Perlozzo said. "I've got to believe this is going to come out as a positive for the Orioles, one way or another."
For the Orioles, the best-case scenario would be Tejada backing off his stance and displaying the same enthusiasm that has enabled him to become the team leader in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field.
His leadership abilities, as much as his .304 batting average, 26 homers and 98 RBI, are what make Tejada the team's most valuable player.
"I know he's a little frustrated, but I can't imagine starting the season without Miguel Tejada," pitcher Bruce Chen said. "He's going to be very hard to replace. He's a team leader, a good player. I'm pretty sure he's going to be back. Once spring training starts, I'm sure he'll be OK."
With Tejada playing a key role, the Orioles bolted into first place early in 2005 and stayed atop the AL East deep into June. Baltimore couldn't sustain the lofty pace and tumbled into fourth place, in part because of injuries and the steroid-related suspension of first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.
It's hard to determine if Tejada's production tailed off because of the collapse, but he hit .277 in August and .264 in September and October. He had only four homers after July 27.
Losing, and Palmeiro's suggestion that his positive steroid test might have come from a tainted injection of vitamin B-12 provided by Tejada, clearly disturbed the shortstop.
His ire became more pronounced after the Toronto Blue Jays fortified their roster while the Orioles were outbid for free agent Paul Konerko, lost free-agent closer B.J. Ryan and failed to add a pitcher to a young starting rotation.
"I doubt that Miguel thought last year when we went into the season that we would jump out in front and be 15 games over .500," Perlozzo said. "All I ask is, give us a chance. We haven't finished the roster. We went out and got a catcher, we made a great effort to get Konerko, we got Leo to come over. We're continuing to talk."
To a man, the Orioles hope any subsequent trade does not involve Tejada.
"I expect to see Miggy in an Orioles uniform," outfielder Jay Gibbons said. "I never thought it would come to this; I was shocked it happened. I'm hoping we make a couple more moves, make him happy and get him back here because he's our team leader. He's one of the top three shortstops in baseball, and quite frankly, we need him."
Said Perlozzo: "I truly believe if he's still a Baltimore Oriole, we're going to have a great player. I would still welcome him in, and expect him to be the player he's always been."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press