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Orioles Sign Utilityman Gomez to Bolster Bench

From News Services and Staff Reports
Thursday, December 9, 2004; Page D10

The Baltimore Orioles strengthened their bench yesterday, signing veteran infielder Chris Gomez to a one-year minor league deal.

Gomez, who hit .282 with three home runs last season as a reserve for the Toronto Blue Jays, will enter spring training as the leading candidate for the utility role held by Luis Lopez last season. The 33-year-old can play shortstop, second, third and first base.

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"He is a guy we plan on being on the club," said Jim Beattie, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations. "He's a nice addition to the depth of the ballclub."

Gomez is the second player signed by the Orioles in a span of two days. On Tuesday, the team re-signed B.J. Surhoff, who could also provide help off the bench should the Orioles sign any big-name outfielders. Beattie said the club wouldn't make any other moves prior to the start of the winter meetings tomorrow.

Williams Back to Padres

Right-hander Woody Williams rejoined the San Diego Padres, more than three years after being traded away in one of the most-criticized deals in team history.

The 38-year-old free agent agreed to a one-year contract, with an option for 2006. He is guaranteed $3.5 million and could earn up to $14.5 million over two seasons if he starts regularly.

Williams was 11-8 with a 4.18 ERA for St. Louis last season. He started Game 1 in all three postseason series for the Cardinals, going 2-0 and getting a no-decision in Game 1 of the World Series against Boston.

Williams pitched with San Diego from 1999 until being sent to St. Louis for outfielder Ray Lankford and cash in a waiver deal shortly after the trade deadline in 2001. The Padres dumped the popular Williams in large part because he was due to make $7.25 million in 2002. . . .

The San Francisco Giants will honor Barry Bonds's home run milestones and other achievements as they always have -- with great fanfare.

"There are a lot of things we're planning," executive vice president and chief operating officer Larry Baer said. "The bottom line is, we want to have a chance to make clear that we're continuing to recognize him and represent him as we have in the past."

On Tuesday, a top official in the commissioner's office said baseball was holding off on plans to market Bonds's pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record, a decision made after a report of the slugger's grand jury testimony about steroids. . . .

Free agent pitcher Pedro Martinez met for 45 minutes with Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and president Larry Lucchino while passing through the international airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

"The meeting was very satisfactory," Henry said. "We are hoping to be able to retain Pedro and keep him in Boston for the rest of his career." . . .

Free agent reliever Matt Mantei and the Red Sox agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract. Mantei, who had been with Arizona since 1999, missed most of last season with shoulder tendinitis. In 12 games, he was 0-3 with an 11.81 ERA. . . .

Right-hander Jon Lieber, 34, agreed to a $21-million, three-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lieber spent last season with the New York Yankees, going 14-8 with a 4.33 ERA in 27 starts. He was 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in three playoff starts. . . .

Carlos Delgado was not offered salary arbitration by the Blue Jays before Tuesday's midnight deadline.

Delgado said he'd consider playing for the Yankees, who declined to offer arbitration to first basemen John Olerud and Tony Clark. Delgado has spent his entire 12-year career with Toronto, batting .282 with 336 home runs and 1,058 RBI. . . .

Left-hander Al Leiter, 39, signed a one-year contract with the Florida Marlins, leaving the New York Mets and returning to the team he helped pitch to the 1997 World Series title. Leiter was 10-8 last season with a 3.21 ERA. . . .

Pitcher Dustin Hermanson and the Chicago White Sox agreed on a two-year, $5.5 million contract that contains a club option for 2007. . . .

Six-time all-star catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. signed a $550,000 contract with the Texas Rangers to be a part-time player next season.

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