<
>

Payton gives O's needed righty-hitting outfielder

BALTIMORE -- Free agent Jay Payton agreed to a $9.5 million, two-year
contract Monday with the Baltimore Orioles, who have spent much of
the offseason searching for a right-handed hitting outfielder.

Payton batted .296 with 10 homers and 59 RBI in 142 games with
Oakland this year. He is expected to play mostly in left field, but
he's capable of manning center and right.

"Jay fits our need for a right-handed hitting outfielder,"
said Mike Flanagan, the team executive vice president for baseball
operations. "The fact that he hits for average against both
lefties and righties and his versatility to play all over the
outfield is a real plus."

The 34-year-old Payton joins left-handed batters Corey
Patterson, Nick Markakis, Jay Gibbons and David Newhan in the
Baltimore outfield.

Payton has a lifetime .284 batting average and has hit 105
homers in seven seasons. His 78 runs, 45 extra-base hits and 233
total bases this year were all the second-highest single-season
totals of his career.

This season he started 51 games in left field, 44 games in
center and 41 in right.

Payton reached the majors in his fifth professional season with
the New York Mets in 1998 and also played for Colorado, San Diego
and Boston before being traded to Oakland during the 2005 All-Star
break.