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Lopez Will Take Swing At DH Role

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 31, 2006

JUPITER, Fla., March 30 -- Though he had resisted the possibility of such a move, Javy Lopez now appears resigned to at least temporarily being a designated hitter. On Wednesday, Baltimore Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo announced that Lopez would at least start the season as a DH, abandoning efforts to turn him into a first baseman. Lopez declined to speak that day, but talked to reporters Thursday.

"If they put me at DH now, during the season, the end of the season, I can't let that bother me anymore," Lopez said. "That's a decision I have no control over. All I have to do is like it -- otherwise, I'm going to go crazy."

The Orioles said the switch was made because Lopez has struggled both offensively and defensively. Lopez, who is hitless in 16 consecutive at-bats, seemed so open to the idea of being the DH that perhaps he wouldn't mind making the switch permanent.

"Who knows?" Lopez said. "I like the fact that I learned a lot about playing first base. I don't want to throw that away. I want to continue getting better at first base. But at the beginning of the season, during the first week or whatever, it will be nice to DH and try to get my timing back."

Perlozzo said the team isn't yet in a position to make Lopez the permanent DH.

"For me, he is talented enough to be more than a DH," Perlozzo said. "Your ideal situation is if the DH could play other positions."

Mora's on Deadline

On Friday, Melvin Mora's self-imposed deadline for a contract extension will pass. The third baseman is scheduled to meet with Orioles owner Peter Angelos before the exhibition game against the Washington Nationals.

"Hopefully, it's good for both parties," he said.

Mora then joked: "That's a good decision to talk to the man who is going to pay me."

Orioles Vice President Jim Duquette didn't necessarily think that Mora's situation was going to be resolved Friday.

"I don't want to put any deadlines on it," Duquette said. "I think it's an opportunity for Melvin to sit down and talk to the owner. I know what Melvin has said, but I think it's important to continue the dialogue. I don't think we should be putting any deadlines even though all along we felt they were arbitrary deadlines. The agent has said all along that, as long as we have productive conversations, we'll keep the dialogue going. There's no need to call it off as long as there is any reason to do it."

Duquette said the two sides have made some progress, which included a new proposal recently from Mora's agent, Lon Babby. The third baseman is believed to be seeking a contract worth approximately $10 million annually.

"At this point," Babby wrote in an e-mail, "all I can really say is that the discussions are certainly at a critical point."

Relaford Is Out The Orioles will release infielder Desi Relaford today. Relaford, who was hitting .171 with only three RBI this spring, was signed to provide depth at Class AAA Ottawa. Up Next vs. Nationals at RFK Stadium, 7 p.m.

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