The Baltimore Orioles today lost relief pitcher Scott Kamieniecki, who signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Indians. Kamieniecki had been one of the Orioles' best relievers in the second half of last season, but became expendable when they signed free agent set-up man Mike Trombley last month.

Kamieniecki, 35, signed with Cleveland for two years for about $3.8 million, with the Indians holding an option on a third year that could boost the total amount of the contract to about $5.5 million. Kamieniecki made $3 million in each of the last two seasons with the Orioles.

Kamieniecki said the Orioles would not match the Indians' offer of a second guaranteed year, offering instead a one-year contract with a one-year option.

"I was kind of surprised," Kamieniecki said. "The impression I got was that they really weren't interested. . . . I was going to take less money from them than I actually got [from Cleveland]. That's their decision. Once they signed [Trombley] they felt they didn't need another right-hander out there."

Orioles director of player personnel Syd Thrift said, "We had interest in re-signing Scott. But we also have [right-handers] Trombley and [Mike] Timlin and [Al] Reyes, and we also feel we have to give some of our young pitchers a chance."

Kamieniecki, who suffered a strained left hamstring in spring training that plagued him until May, was 2-4 with a 4.95 earned run average for the Orioles in 1999.

Kamieniecki's career appeared to be nearly over when he made two disastrous starts in May after coming back from a minor league rehabilitation assignment. But after being switched to the bullpen for the first time in his career, he went 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 40 appearances.

Seemingly more comfortable in relief with every passing week, he allowed only five earned runs in his last 22 appearances (1.90 ERA), becoming by September the team's top right-handed set-up man.

Kamieniecki said he was "surprised" the Orioles didn't value him more because "the bullpen took a lot of blame last year, and I thought I was one of the guys who pitched well."

Orioles Note: The team is close to finalizing its coaching staff, with only the matter of a new pitching coach remaining. The choice has come down to two: Mike Brown, the Indians' roving minor league pitching instructor and Cincinnati Reds pitching coordinator Sammy Ellis.