Baseball Notebook

Baltimore Orioles Sign Free Agent Shortstop Cesar Izturis to Two-Year Contract

Associated Press
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Baltimore Orioles filled their hole at shortstop yesterday, agreeing to a two-year, $5 million contract with free agent César Izturis.

The 28-year-old Izturis batted .263 in 135 games with the St. Louis Cardinals this year. He ranked third in the NL with a .980 fielding percentage.

"This is a good opportunity to play every day," Izturis said. "I think they needed a defensive shortstop. I just want to help the team win; it will be fun."

Izturis won the 2004 Gold Glove for the Los Angeles Dodgers and was an all-star the following year. He fills the void at shortstop left by the trade in 2007 that sent Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros. The Orioles employed six players at the position last season, including Freddie Bynum, Juan Castro and Alex Cintrón.

A switch hitter, Izturis batted .290 right-handed and .245 left-handed in 2008. He also led the Cardinals with 24 stolen bases.

· BRAVES: Shortstop Rafael Furcal is close to accepting a three-year, $30 million offer to return to Atlanta.

The 31-year-old began his major league career with Atlanta, playing for the Braves from 2000 to '05. He spent the last three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His deal would contain an option for 2012 that could become guaranteed.

Furcal hit .357 last season with five homers and 16 RBI but had back surgery July 3 and was limited to 36 games and 143 at-bats.

After hitting .300 with 15 homers, 63 RBI and 37 stolen bases in his first year with the Dodgers, Furcal had ankle and back injuries the last two seasons.

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