By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 30, 2006; E12
BALTIMORE, July 29 -- Who knows what might have changed Miguel Tejada's mind from the offseason, when he asked to be traded, to Saturday, when he said he very much wants to stay in Baltimore for the remaining three years of his contract? But Tejada, in his most candid comments this season, is asking for the Orioles not to trade him even as three teams, as of late Saturday night, have made serious offers for the shortstop.
"I'm not trying to leave from here," Tejada said before Baltimore's 13-11 loss to the Chicago White Sox. "They're trying to make me leave. It's the team, not me. I don't have control of that. The manager and I don't know who, they want to take me out of here. But I don't want to push to get out of here because that's not what I'm thinking."
Manager Sam Perlozzo expressed surprise that Tejada said he wanted him traded. "I don't know where that's coming from," he said after the game. "It's certainly not something that would come from my mouth. I think it would be pretty hard for me to say you want your best hitter and RBI guy off your ballclub."
The strongest offers for Tejada, according to a high-ranking baseball official, have come from the Los Angeles Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.
The Angels' deal centers on 23-year-old pitcher Ervin Santana and 22-year-old shortstop Erick Aybar. A third player might be involved, possibly first baseman Casey Kotchman or Class A pitcher Nick Adenhart. The Dodgers seem willing to deal one of their shortstops, either Rafael Furcal or Cesar Izturis, along with one or two prospects from a talent-rich farm system. The Astros don't appear to be a good fit but have told the Orioles they are willing to go to "extremes" to obtain Tejada. But the Astros also seem to be pursuing the Washington Nationals' Alfonso Soriano, sources have told The Washington Post.
It had seemed unlikely the Orioles would trade Tejada, but the three teams have been aggressive in their pursuit of a deal.
Based on his discussions with Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman, Mike Scioscia, the Angels' manager, told reporters in Boston that Tejada "is one of the names we're bouncing around, but no more than other guys you'd talk about. I don't know anything about what we've offered or how deep the talks are, but I know there have been discussions."
Tejada would have to agree to play third base for the Angels, who have no intention of displacing shortstop Orlando Cabrera. At this point, Tejada said he is unwilling to do so, which surely could derail talks.
"I don't want to go anywhere to play third if they have nobody else to play third base because it's a position that I've never played," he said. "I want to play shortstop because that's the position that I've always played. I don't want to be [at shortstop] all year and then play third base. It's not an easy position. I don't want to disappoint myself. If I go play for somewhere else, I'll try. . . . If I need to make the move I'll make it [but] I can still play short."
As the Orioles head toward a ninth consecutive losing season, Tejada seems more confident in the franchise's future than he did during the offseason when he abruptly asked for a trade. Owner Peter Angelos said he didn't believe Tejada really wanted to leave, and Tejada said he definitely doesn't want to leave now.
"I don't know if they want to trade me or not because they haven't talked to me," Tejada said.
Tejada praised the front office's work and said he believed the team's young pitching will carry them in the future. A few hours later, rookie James Johnson gave up eight runs to the White Sox. Only Tejada -- with four hits, a home run and three RBI -- kept the game from being a rout.
"When I signed here, I signed to win here," Tejada said. "I signed because I think one of these years I can take this team to the playoffs. That's what I got on my mind. There's nothing I can do. I am still here and we'll see what happens."