Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora will leave this week to play winter ball in his native Venezuela for the first time in several years, and he will try to familiarize himself with another position in the process.
Mora will split time between third base and the outfield during winter league play, said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who this month granted Mora permission to play through the veteran's agent, Lon Babby.
"He had an idea on how often and where he wanted to play, and I was fine with that," MacPhail said. "He had some interest in doing both" third base and outfield.
Mora, 35, hasn't played the outfield since 2003. The Orioles might ask him to move to the outfield for the season if they intend to move Miguel Tejada from shortstop to third base. That could become irrelevant because Tejada is expected to be dealt in the offseason.
With MacPhail seemingly committed to overhauling the roster, Mora also would be a prime trade candidate, but he has a blanket no-trade clause. Mora told The Sun this month that he would consider dropping the no-trade clause if the Orioles were in full rebuilding mode but would do it only for an East Coast team.
Several Orioles sources said they think Mora would approve a trade only to the Philadelphia Phillies or to a New York team. The Orioles have had preliminary talks with the Phillies, according to an industry source, but it is unclear how interested Philadelphia, which has uncertainty at third base, is in Mora.
Talks about Bedard
MacPhail and Mark Pieper, the agent for Orioles ace Erik Bedard, have been having "periodic" conversations about a contract extension for the 28-year-old left-hander but have yet to exchange figures.
"There have been some conceptual conversations," MacPhail said.
MacPhail didn't rule out more in-depth talks at next week's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
The extension talks are a further indication that the Orioles don't want to trade Bedard, who is two seasons away from free agency, until they have tried to sign him long-term.
Around the diamond
MacPhail said no decision has been made on disciplining Aubrey Huff for his blunt comments about Baltimore and other off-the-field topics on satellite radio this month. "It's something that we will handle," he said, declining to discuss potential options. ... The Orioles have no interest in free-agent outfielder Jose Guillen, despite reports that indicate otherwise. ... The Orioles will hold their annual FanFest at Camden Yards on March 29. ... Cal Ripken Jr. will received the Sportsman of the Year award at today's March of Dimes Sports Luncheon in New York.