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O's: Training camp search heats up

Here's an article from the Fort Myers News-Press that seems to indicate that the Orioles are close to closing a long-term agreement to move their spring headquarters to City of Palms Park when the Red Sox move out in three years.

Don't know why I'm so skeptical of the optimistic comments from Lee County deputy manager Bill Hammond, who claims a deal is not done, but is "as close as you can get." Maybe it's because the Orioles seemed to have a deal with Vero Beach for the recently vacated Dodgertown facility and also fell out of negotiations with Sarasota for the former Cincinnati Reds camp.

If the Orioles made a deal with Fort Myers, they'll still have to train somewhere else in 2010 and 2011. They can extend their year-to-year agreement with Fort Lauderdale or move into one of the other vacated camps temporarily, but any option except Sarasota would also keep them in the disadvantageous-but-longstanding position of having their minor league players far removed from the major league facility.

The three-year window also creates the possibility of the Orioles coming up with a better offer between now and then, so the Lee County people had better have every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed or they might find out what Vero Beach already knows. The O's have never been afraid to pull out of a deal.

Keep in mind that the search for a permanent, all-purpose facility has only been going on for about 20 years now.

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