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Three days after Orioles president Andy MacPhail stated that finding a starting pitcher was a priority in the wake of the Erik Bedard trade, he reached into the club's recent past and snatched one.

The Orioles signed Steve Trachsel, 37, to a minor league contract yesterday and invited him to spring training. He'll compete for one of the two open spots in a rotation that includes Jeremy Guthrie, Adam Loewen and Daniel Cabrera after the team traded Bedard to the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

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MacPhail said Trachsel was the first choice of manager Dave Trembley and the team's major league evaluators because "they thought he was a good example for our young kids with his work ethic and professionalism."

"That was the guy that they wanted back," he said.

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The Orioles no longer are having discussions with representatives for other free-agent starters on the market. They had expressed interest in Josh Fogg and Kyle Lohse and could renew those talks later, though the club would want a cost-effective deal.

"As things stand now, [Trachsel] has to be viewed as a very likely candidate to break camp with us," MacPhail said. "He did a good job for us last year, particularly toward the end. Our guys were very impressed with his demeanor in the clubhouse."

Trachsel signed as a free agent last spring after the Orioles learned pitcher Kris Benson could be sidelined with a tear in his shoulder. He made 25 starts, going 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA and allowing three runs or fewer in 17 games.

The Orioles traded Trachsel to the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 31, the day before playoff rosters had to be set, for infielder Scott Moore and reliever Rocky Cherry. Moore and Cherry remain on the 40-man roster.

In four starts with the Cubs, Trachsel went 1-3 with an 8.31 ERA. He's 141-154 with a 4.32 ERA in 15 major league seasons with the Cubs (twice), Orioles, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Trachsel's signing leaves the Orioles with 18 nonroster players invited to spring training.

MacPhail indicated the club isn't close to making other significant moves. The Cubs and Orioles have engaged in lengthy trade talks involving second baseman Brian Roberts, but despite constant media and fan speculation, the two sides haven't agreed on a package.

"Really, in the immediate, I don't see much going on in terms of a week out or so. But you don't ever know," MacPhail said.

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"If something makes sense for us, we will evaluate it. It's not different than other circumstances."

Notes -- Outfielder Luke Scott and pitcher Garrett Olson signed contracts for 2008. Scott, acquired from the Houston Astros in December in the Miguel Tejada trade, batted .255 with 18 home runs last season. He's projected as the starting left fielder heading into camp. Olson, a left-hander who will compete for the fifth starter's job, made his major league debut in 2007 and went 1-3 with a 7.79 ERA in seven starts. He was 9-7 in 22 starts at Triple-A Norfolk and ranked second in the International League with a 3.16 ERA and eighth with 120 strikeouts. ... Reliever Fernando Cabrera underwent a minor surgical procedure on his right arm over the winter and might be a week to 10 days behind when spring training starts. Pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Thursday. ... The Orioles had discussions about bringing back center fielder Corey Patterson, but it's now unlikely after they acquired Adam Jones from the Mariners.roch.

kubatko@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com


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