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Players warm to deal

Adam Loewen predicted yesterday that one of his best friends in baseball will win 20 games this season. It just won't happen with the Orioles.

And like many of his teammates, Loewen understands why it has to be this way.

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A rebuilding club eventually gets back in a pennant race by making trades that will improve it in the long run. For the Orioles, that meant sending No. 1 starter Erik Bedard to the Seattle Mariners for center fielder Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and three minor league pitchers.

"He was definitely the leader of our staff last year," Loewen said. "It's tough to see him go. It's going to be tough in the immediate future to lose him, but we got some players back that we really need. Hopefully, it's the right move."

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It's a move that was months in the making.

The trade finally became official yesterday after Bedard passed his physical in Seattle and both teams held news conferences on opposite coasts.

The Orioles also received pitchers Chris Tillman, Tony Butler and Kam Mickolio -- each ranked among the Mariners' top 18 prospects by Baseball America.

"The whole thing is, you're in a situation now where obviously they're trying to build up the farm system, trying to build up better players who can contribute in 2009 and 2010," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "It's no secret there were some weaknesses and holes in the minor league system when it comes to power arms, and it's a situation they feel they need to improve on to start competing in the [American League] East."

Reliever Jamie Walker was excited to hear that Sherrill was part of the deal; they're both products of Austin Peay State University.

"That's probably a first in school history," he said. "I think it's a good trade. I know the fans are going to be upset because we're giving away a No. 1, but we're getting some quality people for it. I know George, and he's going to be a nice complement for the bullpen.

"We've still got to get some starting pitching, though. You hate to lose that as a relief pitcher. You like to sit back and watch guys go eight or nine innings. That usually means you're winning. But that's the direction they're going, rebuilding, and I'm committed to it. You won't ever hear me ask to be traded.

"Seattle got a hell of a deal, too. I think everybody's a winner."

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The trade could leave Jeremy Guthrie, a rookie last season, as the Opening Day starter in Baltimore.

Guthrie was projected as No. 2 in the rotation this winter, and the Orioles haven't acquired a pitcher who would be slotted ahead of him.

"It sounds like we've got a couple of really good pieces for the present and some possibly great pieces in the future," Guthrie said. "I think ideally they wanted to move him, and that was driven a little by wanting to get some great player in return because he was such a great player for us.

"And financially it made sense for the Orioles for the plan they have. If they had to get rid of him, I think they got some great guys in return."

"I love Bedard," third baseman Melvin Mora said. "He's one of the best pitchers we have, and not only a good pitcher, he's a good man. But if you haven't won in a lot of years, you have to try to do different things to see if you can win."

The Orioles will see if they can handle Bedard now that he's no longer on their side. And they won't have to wait long: The Mariners visit Camden Yards during the first week in April.

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"He's a great guy to hang out with, a great teammate, but it's part of the game," outfielder Nick Markakis said. "I guess I have to accept it. There's nothing that I can do. We're going through some troubles right now, and they're trying to fix it. We're going to have to go along with what's happening.

"Now, I just have to figure out how to hit him."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

TEAM REACTION

"I guess it's part of rebuilding. It [stinks], but I guess that's the way things go sometimes. ... I'm not looking forward to facing him, I can tell you that much." Nick Markakis

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"He's a No. 1 anywhere he goes, but you have to be excited for the Baltimore Orioles for the young guys that we have in return. We're going to miss him, but you have to move forward." Melvin Mora

"The five players they gave us all are very good. I think quite a few of them are going to make an immediate contribution and have a real positive impact on our club not only this year, but down the road." Dave Trembley

"I think he's going to be a 20-game winner if he stays healthy all year. I wish him all the best." Adam Loewen

"For those who made the trade, they definitely did their homework, and the Orioles have a chance to benefit in a few years." Jeremy Guthrie

"I said all along our minor league system last year got exposed with all the injuries we had. Andy [MacPhail] is doing it the right way." Jamie Walker

"There's nobody else you want on the mound every fifth day, a left-hander who throws 95 mph and leads the league in strikeouts. But you've got to take a step back to take a few steps forward and compete, and that's what the Orioles have to do." Kevin Millar

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"Yeah, it's tough to lose Erik, but if it helps the club in the long run and the organization is committed to rebuilding, then I think you have to do it." Aubrey Huff


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