Baltimore Orioles right fielder Albert Belle, breaking a silence with the local media that has lasted since the first day of spring training, said today he has not waived the no-trade clause in his contract.
"If I waived my no-trade clause, I'd get up here and tell you," Belle said. ". . . The trade rumors are false. I'm not going anywhere."
Belle, who hit three home runs in the Orioles' 8-7 victory over the Anaheim Angels today at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was asked by Orioles director of public relations John Maroon to meet with the media afterward. In previous instances -- including as recently as Thursday in Boston, when he hit a game-winning three-run homer -- Belle has declined to speak. But today, he said yes -- "Because I feel like it," he said.
Belle said his recent hot streak -- he is 18 for 49 (.367) with six homers and 18 RBI in his past 12 games -- and the slow start that preceded it are nothing new to him. "I'm pretty much right on schedule," he said. "Start off slow, finish up strong. I don't know why everyone panics. I've been doing this for 10 years now. Why change?"
Until today, Belle's only comment about his no-trade clause -- which gives him the power to veto any trade during the first three years of his five-year, $65 million contract -- was a statement on his Web page and a handwritten sign at his locker saying he intended to remain with the Orioles.
Asked today if he planned to stay in Baltimore, he said: "Yeah, that's why I put that sign up in my locker -- 4 1/2 more years. I know it's hard for some of you reporters to comprehend that and read between the lines, but I tried to do it pretty simple."
Just One More
Third baseman Cal Ripken's 399th homer left him one shy of becoming the 29th player in history to hit 400 homers. He finished the game with a .328 batting average, and only B.J. Surhoff has more extra-base hits for the Orioles than does Ripken, who has 35. . . .
Right-handed reliever Al Reyes, acquired last week from the Milwaukee Brewers, made his Orioles debut today, and struck out the side in the eighth inning. . . . Jeff Conine made only his second start of the season in left field, as Manager Ray Miller used Surhoff as the designated hitter for the first time.