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Orioles' MacPhail: Keeping Hardy made more sense than trading him

Shortstop's extension official; Bell, Worrell promoted from Triple-A

By Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

9:52 PM EDT, July 18, 2011

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Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he received "legitimate interest" from clubs looking to upgrade at shortstop this month, but in the end he felt the Orioles should keep J.J. Hardy instead of dealing him away for prospects.

In a hastily arranged news conference Monday afternoon, the Orioles announced that they had agreed to a three-year, $22.25 million contract extension with Hardy, 28, who will remain with the Orioles through 2014.

"We looked forward and looked at the offseason, and as far as we can discern, there was going to be a greater demand for the shortstop position than there was going to be a supply coming out," MacPhail said. "The teams that we thought were going to be looking over the winter, and wherever those guys were going to come from, we just thought the supply-and-demand equation made sense to do it now. That [trade possibility] is now off the table. We're not going to consider doing anything with J.J."

Hardy has a limited no-trade clause that prohibits him from being dealt to eight designated teams in each of the three years of the extension without his permission. Hardy, who has been dealt twice since 2009, also cannot be traded this season.

"I think that's why my agent and I really stressed that we wanted a no-trade clause, knowing that I wanted to be here for the next three years," said Hardy, who entered Monday having hit .278 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs and made just two errors in his first 65 games with the Orioles. "That was a big part. Eased my mind? Yeah, I think so."

Hardy has not played more than 115 games in a season since 2008, but MacPhail said he does not think Hardy is an injury risk going forward — at least not more than the typical player.

"People get hurt, unfortunately, in this game any day. … There's nothing that our medical team saw that would indicate there is a higher than normal percentage of something happening in the offing," MacPhail said. "Quite to the contrary. Physically, they are very satisfied with the conditioning and how he approaches himself."

Worrell, Bell called up

The Orioles promoted third baseman Josh Bell and reliever Mark Worrell from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, filling the roster spots of Mitch Atkins (demoted) and Alfredo Simon (placed on restricted list).

Bell, 24, hit .254 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Tides this season after playing 53 games for the Orioles (and batting .214 with three homers) in 2010.

"It's always good getting called up, especially coming from Norfolk. I didn't have too great of a series [most recently at Triple-A], but it's good to be here," Bell said. "There's no better place to be than the big leagues. It's a great, great feeling."

Worrell, 28, last pitched in the big leagues in 2008 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was 0-4 with 12 saves and a 2.95 ERA in 35 games with the Tides this year. He entered Monday's game in the eighth inning, becoming the 15th player to make his Orioles debut this season and 900th in club history.

Around the horn

Right fielder Nick Markakis was named the American League Player of the Week for the period ending Sunday after he hit .429 (6-for-14) with two doubles, two home runs, four RBIs and five runs and collected his 1,000th hit. It is the first Player of the Week honor in Markakis' career and the first for an Oriole since Luke Scott was recognized July 25, 2010. … Norfolk left-hander Brian Matusz was named International League Pitcher of the Week for throwing seven shutout, three-hit innings against Gwinnett on Saturday night. … Double-A Bowie lefty Mike Ballard garnered Eastern League Pitcher of the Week honors after going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings. … Showalter said second baseman Brian Roberts (concussion) had a good day Monday, taking coaches' batting practice, fielding ground balls and running sprints. … Infielder Cesar Izturis is experiencing soreness in his surgically repaired right elbow, pushing his return to game action from Wednesday to Friday in the Gulf Coast League. … Scott, who played a second consecutive game Monday for Bowie, remains on track to return to the Orioles' lineup Tuesday. … Righty Justin Duchscherer (strained left hip) is scheduled to see another doctor Tuesday. … Maryland football coach Randy Edsall is throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday's game.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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