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Maybe today

Once Erik Bedard officially becomes a member of Seattle's organization, perhaps by late today, the Mariners will explore the possibility of signing him to an extension. In the meantime, the Orioles' offer of $6 million for 2008 becomes their responsibility.

They also must decide whether Bedard or Felix Hernandez is their Opening Day starter. Don't you have to go with Bedard?

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There doesn't appear to be any more holdups with this trade. Bedard wasn't stopped and subjected to a strip search at airport security. The airline didn't lose his luggage. He didn't stop off at a Starbucks for a skim latte. And a video hasn't appeared on YouTube showing Bedard releasing a rooster at a cockfighting event.

That would be Pedro Martinez, who defended his actions by reminding us that the "sport" is part of his culture. And it happened two years ago. And he was a guest, not a participant.

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Maybe I'm being fussy here, but if you're holding a rooster, I believe that qualifies as participating.

And the fact that he also was holding a deep-fryer doesn't excuse his actions in my book.

With Curt Schilling's ailing shoulder making him a candidate for the disabled list, and possibly surgery, depending on which medical opinion you believe, should the Orioles fly Bedard to Boston instead?

Better question: Would you rather have Adam Jones or Jacoby Ellsbury in center field?

Left-hander George Sherrill will be a candidate to close for the Orioles this season, and nobody really knows if he's equipped for the job. Some guys make the transition from set-up to closer without a hitch. Others (Arthur Rhodes, for instance) don't have it in them.

The Orioles want a veteran with closing experience. Sherrill's age makes him a veteran -- he turns 31 in April -- but he has only four career saves in four major league seasons.

Maybe they'll go with a left-right tandem of Sherrill and Greg Aquino. More likely, they'll try to settle on one arm, even if it means signing a free agent before Opening Day.

Bob McCrory has closed in the minors, he led the Arizona Fall League with five saves and his fastball reaches the upper 90s, but he hasn't pitched above Double-A. It's probably too soon to hand him ninth-inning leads, but his time will come.

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The bullpen competition will be fierce. Sherrill, Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford are assured of having jobs, but the last four spots are wide open.

Randor Bierd is a Rule 5 pick. Dennis Sarfate is out of minor league options. I like Sarfate's chances a lot more, but that's an early judgment.

Brian Burres could be the long man, unless it's Lance Cormier or Matt Albers or Hayden Penn (if he doesn't make the rotation). Fernando Cabrera and Rocky Cherry are still here. James Hoey will try to convince manager Dave Trembley that he doesn't need any more innings at Triple-A.

Meanwhile, the Nationals signed Japanese left-handed reliever Katsuhiko Maekawa to a minor league contract with a spring invite. He didn't pitch last year after Orix suspended him.

Something about a woman on a bicycle, a hit-and-run and a suspended drivers license.

Katsuhiko, meet Elijah and Lastings. Elijah and Lastings, meet Katsuhiko.


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