Notebook: Amid trade rumors, Lee focuses on finishing strong

Derrek Lee has been in this situation before, so he is probably the last guy who is going to be affected by hearing his name in trade rumors.

With the Chicago Cubs last year, Lee vetoed a deal to the Los Angeles Angels before the nonwaiver trade deadline. A month later, the veteran first baseman approved a trade to the Atlanta Braves and was part of their playoff team.

Lee's first — and likely only — season with the Orioles has been a struggle, but the 35-year-old is swinging the bat as well as he has all season, and his defense and clubhouse presence would seemingly be attractive to contenders.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates could be two potential fits, and both clubs have had scouts at this series. However, the Pirates are also known to have interest in reliever Koji Uehara.

"I don't think about it," Lee said. "Every year, it's the same thing around this time. It's something that you can't control. I guess last year was different. I did have control. I was kind of part of the trade talks, and they were bringing different things to me and asking me what I want to do. This year, I have no control. You just try to block it out. I'd like to stay here, but who knows what's going to happen. We'll see."

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail continues to engage in trade talks, primarily about two players: Uehara and starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. MacPhail and manager Buck Showalter spoke on the phone for nearly an hour Thursday to go over potential moves.

With the trade deadline Sunday afternoon, it's widely believed that Lee, who is still owed about $2.5 million of the $7.25 million, one-year deal that he signed with the Orioles in January, would clear waivers, giving the Orioles more time to trade him.

However, his improved play recently could accelerate a potential deal. Lee, 35, entered Thursday's series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays with a .248 average, 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 82 games. In 12 games since the All-Star break, he's batting .326 with two homers and 11 RBIs.

"I'm just really trying to focus on finishing strong wherever it may be this year," Lee said. "I just really want to get back to trying to have a respectable season. I just try to block everything else out and worry about that when the time comes. I don't feel better yet. It's not been a good season for me personally or teamwise. I had different expectations coming into this season, but we still have two months left. I definitely want to finish on a good note."

Lee wasn't ready to commit to plans for next season, saying: "I don't know. I'm going to get home after the season, sit down with the family, see what we want to do and go from there."

Britton and Tillman likely to start doubleheader

While the club has settled on promoting Zach Britton to start Game Two of Saturday's doubleheader against the New York Yankees, it still hasn't made a decision on who will start the first game. However, Showalter acknowledged that Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman has emerged as the lead candidate.

"A lot depends on how we come out of these two games tonight and tomorrow and what we do in the bullpen, and what presents itself," Showalter said. "There are some adjustments that we might have to make. The schedule is certainly not kind. You know every time you get a rainout, you're going to pay the piper somewhere down the line. You got a day game after a split doubleheader."

Tillman, whose next turn falls on Saturday, is 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 starts for the Tides. In 10 starts for the Orioles before he was demoted May 29, the 23-year-old was 2-3 with a 4.69 ERA.

Around the horn

The Orioles released an anti-bullying video public service announcement Wednesday in support of the "It Gets Better" Project and the Trevor Project. The video, which can be viewed at, features pitchers Jake Arrieta, Jason Berken, Zach Britton, Kevin Gregg and Michael Gonzalez delivering encouraging messages to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths who are being bullied. … Brad Bergesen, who started tonight, is expected to leave the team in the next couple of days to return to Baltimore and be with his wife, Shea, who is due to give birth to the couple's first child. … Infielder Cesar Izturis (elbow surgery) will meet up with the Orioles in New York and work out with the club, but Showatler said a decision hasn't been made on whether he'll be activated from the disabled list. … Gonzalez served the final game of his three-game suspension Thursday, and he'll be available out of the bullpen in Friday's series opener. … Arrieta, who got hit in the right foot by a come-backer Tuesday, said he feels good and he'll be able to make Sunday's start. … Mike Flacco, younger brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, hit his first home run for Single-A Frederick Thursday.

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