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Teixeira keeps O's option open for free agency

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — ARLINGTON, TEXAS -- Mark Teixeira wanted to make one thing clear. He is a member of the Texas Rangers and will be at least for another season and a half, unless the organization trades him. Before that, any talk about the Severna Park native coming home to help the Orioles return to prominence remains a fantasy.

"It's a good story," said Teixeira, the Rangers first baseman who has been on the disabled list since June 9 with a strained left quadriceps. "It really is. I grew up a die-hard Orioles fan. There's no secret about that. My family grew up in Severna Park, and they'll probably live there the rest of their lives. It's definitely a good story.

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"For me, I'm a Texas Ranger and I have a year and a half left here in Texas [before being eligible for free agency]. Unless I get traded somewhere else, I'm going to be a Texas Ranger and try to win with this team here. That's what my No. 1 goal is right there."

Teixeira reiterated before last night's game that he would be intrigued by the prospect of signing with the Orioles when he is eligible for free agency after the 2008 season. That's been his feeling all along.

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"Baltimore, in the future, it's a place I'd love to look at," said Teixeira, who is represented by agent Scott Boras. "I don't want to talk too much about it. I don't want anything to be a distraction to my team. In a year and a half, we can have a lot of fun conversations."

Teixeira smiled when asked if he was aware how much Orioles fans have been clamoring for the club to acquire him from the Rangers.

"It's really, really touching for my family and I to have a bunch of people say, 'Hey, when is Mark going to come back home and play?'" he said. "So that's really nice. At the same time, this is a tough business, and you never know where you're going to be one day to the next."

Several Orioles, including interim manager Dave Trembley, greeted Teixeira while he was taking batting practice before the game. The first baseman, hitting .302 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs, will play in a game on a rehabilitation assignment Wednesday.

Asked whether he still roots for the Orioles, Teixeira said, "without a doubt."

"My dad, when he's not watching the Rangers games, he's watching the O's games. I got some friends who are over there. Corey Patterson I work out with a little bit in the offseason. Brian Roberts is a good dude over there. I root for those guys, and I root for the Orioles except when they're playing us."

High on Wieters

Teixeira, a Georgia Tech alumnus, gave high marks to Matt Wieters, the Georgia Tech catcher who was the Orioles' first-round pick in last month's draft and fifth pick overall. Teixeira said he spoke to the catcher in February at the Yellow Jackets' baseball banquet.

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"You got a great guy," Teixeira said. "He's an unbelievable athlete, first of all. And he's so poised. He's a great leader. He's one of these guys out of the Jason Varitek mold. He's a take-charge guy. He's a switch-hitter. He's got a rocket arm. He's got it all. So, I'm hoping that he signs with the O's and has a great career."

Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan said Thursday night that he's had some discussions with Boras, who also represents Wieters. However, nothing is expected to be settled for several weeks.

House is out

Triple-A Norfolk catcher J.R. House, who was hitting .296 with seven home runs and 48 RBIs, left the organization. House had an opt-out clause stating that if he wasn't on the major league roster by July 1, he could ask for his release. House played for the Tides on July 1 and July 2 before deciding to leave the team. House remains on the Tides' roster, according to a club spokesman.

Team officials liked his bat but didn't feel he had a strong enough arm to catch in the major leagues.

Around the horn

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Melvin Mora (bruised left foot) didn't start for the fifth straight game last night. Trembley said it is possible he might not start again until after the All-Star break. ... Trembley is hoping to use Brian Burres, who started and threw only 49 pitches in 1 1/3 innings Thursday, out of the bullpen tomorrow.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com


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