The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles signed Jay Payton, who hit .296 last season for the Oakland Athletics with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs, to a two-year, $9.5 million deal in December. Payton, 34, is with his sixth organization after stints with the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox and the A's. He'll likely play all three outfield positions for the Orioles.

What are your impressions of the team after the first couple of weeks? -- It's been awesome so far.

It's a great bunch of guys. Everybody goes into the season thinking they have a chance, but I honestly believe that if we can keep everybody healthy and keep our young arms fresh, we have a chance to do something special here.

You immediately won some fans in Baltimore when you referred to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as the two Evil Empires in your introductory news conference. How great a feeling is it to beat those two teams?

-- It's great. It's hard being the favorite because you are supposed to win. It's even better being the underdog and you're able to knock off that Goliath or whatever. There is nothing better than that. When you are supposed to win, nobody cares.

At Georgia Tech, you were a teammate of Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. Who hit cleanup in that lineup?

-- I did. Varitek hit third, and Nomar hit leadoff. It was great. Every time I came up, I had two guys on base pretty much. That's why I had as many RBIs [nation-leading 102 in 1994] as I did. Nomar and Varitek probably had .600 on-base percentages.

What do you do in your free time?

-- Just hang out with my family. I have an iPod, but I don't use it that much. I have a PlayStation, and I don't ever use it. I am an Internet guy, too. I hang out with my family and friends, and I surf the Internet. That's about it.

If you had three dinner invitations to hand out, who would get them?

-- God, Jesus and maybe a relative from 200 years ago that I don't know.

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