Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada met with Andy MacPhail for 45 minutes yesterday, telling the president of baseball operations that it's his preference to remain a shortstop but that being on a winning team remains his biggest priority.
On the eve of what could be his last game in an Orioles uniform, Tejada said he didn't ask MacPhail for a trade, but he made it clear he's not interested in being with a team that's rebuilding.
"I want to win," Tejada said. "It's not about changing positions. My point isn't about changing positions. My point is winning. I don't want to play every day just for money. I'm not that kind of person. I play for pride. I don't care about changing positions if we're going to be a winner, and I want to be on a team that is going to compete to win."
Both Tejada and MacPhail characterized the meeting, which took place away from Camden Yards, as productive. While the two had talked informally before, yesterday's meeting was the first time they were able to sit down and trade ideas about the club.
"I've read a bunch of different things, and I wanted to hear it straight from him," MacPhail said. "I think it was good to sit down with him and talk to him about the team and himself, what he sees, what I see. It really wasn't that big of a deal."
MacPhail said he did ask Tejada about the possibility of changing positions, and the 31-year-old made it clear it was his preference to remain at shortstop.
"I'm not particularly troubled with somebody that wants to play, wants to win games and believes in their abilities," MacPhail said. "He believes in his abilities at shortstop. That's OK. I have to do what is the best interest in the franchise. I think you make better decisions if you have opportunity to talk to people and get it firsthand. He clearly would prefer to stay at short, but he wants to win."
In an interview with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network before Friday's game, Tejada said he would rather be traded than moved to another position with the Orioles. He backed off that statement slightly yesterday, maintaining that his position was secondary to being on a winning team.
Tejada also said he would have no problem playing third base for another team, as long as that club is a playoff contender. But he did admit he has grown tired of the constant talk that his defense at shortstop is preventing the Orioles from winning.
"I'm angry because this is not the time for this," said Tejada, who has 15 errors this season. "Why don't they talk about changing [New York Yankees shortstop] Derek Jeter's position? Jeter has, like, 20 errors. We're not winning. We're not a winning team. Why do they keep talking about me, me, me? That's what I said, I'd prefer to go somewhere else and show the world how good of a shortstop I am when I'm playing on a good team.
"But whether it's here or another team, I just want to compete and win. I don't say that I want to be traded, but I want to win."
Tejada, who has two years, $26 million remaining on the six-year, $72 million deal he signed with the Orioles in December 2003, asked for a trade after the 2005 season, saying he was sick of losing. The club went 70-92 last season and is 69-92 this year.
Of his meeting with MacPhail, Tejada said: "I wanted to hear it from him if we're going to win here. That's what I asked him, if we're going to win or not. I told him that I want to win and I'm frustrated. I don't want to come to the field every day and go home. This is not about making money. I want to show the whole world that I play on a good team."
When asked what he would do if the Orioles told him he needed to play another position next season, Tejada said: "I just work here. They can do whatever they want to do. But I feel fine at shortstop. My heart says I can play short."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley talked to Tejada about the possibility of meeting with MacPhail, and the shortstop was fine with the idea.
"Miggy has not been frustrated with me," Trembley said. "I've respected him, and he's played hard. He wants to win. But I know he wants to play shortstop. I know that. I'd like to think that it won't be a problem. I fully expect that he'll be a major part of this team next season, but in what role, I couldn't tell you."
MacPhail will preside over organizational meetings next week, giving him time to decide on a game plan with Tejada, who has impressed the president of baseball operations with his energy and enthusiasm.
"Miguel is all about winning," MacPhail said. "It was clear from us talking. He wants to win. It's that simple. He made it clear that he likes it here and would like to stay here. But he also wants to win."