Roberts keeping 'options open'

The Baltimore Sun

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Brian Roberts and Erik Bedard share the same agent, so the Orioles' second baseman is well aware of the nightmarish season his former teammate has experienced after he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. Roberts also remains close friends with his old double-play partner Miguel Tejada, who was traded in December to the Houston Astros, a team with a record similar to the Orioles'.

Neither Tejada nor Bedard wanted to be part of the Orioles' rebuilding process, so club president Andy MacPhail traded both. Roberts, who is heading into a pivotal offseason, said there are lessons to be learned from both situations.

"There are no guarantees in this game," Roberts said. "Certainly, you have to be real careful what you ask for sometimes. I haven't asked for anything. I understand that it's not always greener on the other side. I do know that. When you have to play 162 games, you just never know what's going to happen."

When the trade deadline came and went last week and Roberts remained the Orioles' second baseman and leadoff hitter, it virtually ensured that the club will have a tough decision to make this offseason about the future of one of the club's best and most popular players. Roberts, a 30-year-old two-time All-Star, is a free agent after next season and the window to signing him to a contract extension is closing fast.

He said it's probably a "safe assumption" that he wouldn't engage in extension talks with the Orioles once spring training starts in February.

"There comes a point in time when you've gone that far that you just leave all your options open," Roberts said. "I don't know that that would be a time to need or desire to shut all my options off. It wouldn't mean that I couldn't sign with them at the end of the year. ... I've been here for a long time, and I'm willing to [stay]. Anytime the team comes to you to talk, you're always going to listen. But that's about as far as I can go because nothing has ever come about."

It might all be a moot point if MacPhail cashes in on one of his biggest trade chips. MacPhail spent much of last offseason entertaining offers for Roberts, with the Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins among the biggest suitors. The Orioles again listened to inquiries before last month's trade deadline, but several teams were told he is not currently available, according to league sources.

It would figure that MacPhail would want Roberts' situation resolved before next season. That way, he would not risk losing him as a free agent and getting nothing but draft picks in return, or having Roberts' trade value lessened, with teams viewing him as a rental player who is heading for free agency.

Asked last week about potential extension talks with Roberts, MacPhail said, "You're way ahead me," indicating that the club was still working through post-trade deadline matters. If MacPhail indicates that Roberts is available, it's expected that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will be among the second baseman's pursuers.

"I think I'm probably more prepared to handle it now," Roberts said of persistent trade rumors. "I just didn't want to deal with it for six weeks of spring training, and that's probably the same way I feel this next winter. If they are going to do something, I'd rather have them do it before I go to spring training."

Samuel's special day

Orioles third base and infield coach Juan Samuel has been given permission by the club to miss the series opener with the Texas Rangers and head to Philadelphia, where he'll be inducted into the Phillies' Wall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony tonight.

"It's definitely a big honor," said Samuel, who spent 6 1/2 seasons with the Phillies, making three All-Star teams. " ... Coming from where I came from as a kid from the Dominican Republic, I never even dreamed about this happening."

In his absence tonight, John Shelby will move across the diamond and coach third base and roving catching instructor Don Werner will coach first.

Olson appearance

Former Orioles closer Gregg Olson will appear at the Sports Legends Museum tomorrow at 3 p.m. before his induction into the Orioles' Hall of Fame tomorrow night.

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