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O's: More holes to fill

Finally, there is incontrovertible proof that Andy MacPhail and the members of his front office staff can walk and chew gum at the same time. MacPhail signed Mark Hendrickson during his Florida vacation and obviously kept negotiating with both of the Japanese pitchers in this year's free-agent market, finally getting Koji Uehara to agree to terms yesterday.

While the quest to sign a veteran catcher and a right-hand-hitting first baseman has moved up on the club's priority list, the O's also have been working the market to fill the utility infield role. The trade for Ryan Freel gave them added versatility, but club officials still feel they need a reserve infielder who is a dependable understudy at shortstop.

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There was talk earlier in the offseason about former Oriole Jerry Hairston, but he reportedly just agreed to a deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The Orioles have had several conversations with the agent for our old friend Chris Gomez, but are concerned about his range at this point in his career. Willie Bloomquist might be another possibility.

The O's signed former Royals and A's utilityman Donnie Murphy to a minor league contract in November, but have not stopped pursuing a better option.


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