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O's to talk extensions with Roberts, Markakis

NEW YORK — NEW YORK - Ten days before the start of a pivotal offseason, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said he will explore contract extension talks with the agents of Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis in the coming weeks.

Roberts, who turns 31 on Oct. 9, is expected to be the higher priority because the two-time All-Star second baseman is eligible for free agency at the end of next season.

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"It would be difficult for me envisioning an offseason where we don't explore and see what their appetite [for a contract extension] is given that he is coming into his final season next year," MacPhail said. "I would expect that we have a conversation. Where it's going to go? I don't know. But I would expect that we would have a conversation about it."

For the third straight offseason, Roberts could be one of the top players on the trade market. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are among the teams that could need a second baseman, and the Orioles have had discussions with all four about Roberts.

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However, MacPhail could make it a moot point if he agrees on an extension with Roberts and his agent, Mark Pieper, early in the offseason.

"I've always enjoyed Baltimore. I like playing here," Roberts said. "It's something that we'll have to sit down and look at this winter. If the opportunity arises, I'll sit down with the Orioles or my agent or my family or whoever and try to figure out the best thing to do. I just have trouble looking at it right now. I'm just trying to finish the season, and there's nothing really on the table to talk about it. But I enjoy being here. It's something that I'd definitely consider."

The Orioles had brief negotiations with Markakis' agent, Jamie Murphy, during the All-Star break, but the talks halted without the two sides getting even close to an agreement. Markakis, who turns 25 on Nov. 17 and is considered the cornerstone of the team's rebuilding plan, is eligible for arbitration after the season and is under the Orioles' contractual control through 2011 season.

At the time, MacPhail said the team just wanted to explore what it would take to lock up the right fielder and would explore it further in the offseason. He said this week that those plans haven't changed.

"He is really a good baseball player," MacPhail said. "He is the type of player that you build around. He is in that group that helps you win, no question about it. I'm sure we'll make another run at seeing whether something makes sense for us on a long-term basis."

Markakis said he would be open to talking about an extension.

"I love the city. I love the park. The fans are great. I bought a house there, and I feel comfortable there. We'll see where it takes us," he said. "Sometimes, you have to understand it's not just a one-way street. It's a two-way street. You have to agree on things where both sides are happy. Sometimes, it works out. Sometimes, it doesn't."

Roberts reminisces

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The Orioles have had plenty of painful games at Yankee Stadium, but perhaps Roberts carries the most painful memory. On Sept. 20, 2005, Roberts collided with the New York Yankees' Bubba Crosby. He suffered a dislocated left elbow, torn tendon and torn ulnar collateral ligament in the collision, which put his career in doubt.

"It will always be etched in my mind for that reason if nothing else," said Roberts of his memory of Yankee Stadium, which will host its last game this weekend. "That will stick with me forever. This place has some significance beyond kind of the usual for me probably."

Of his Yankee Stadium memories, Roberts said: "I have memories of watching when I was a kid and watching the Orioles when Jeffrey Maier stole the home run and then playing here and having a career-threatening injury here. It's kind of sad. I think a lot of things will probably flash through my mind."

Burres to start

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said left-hander Brian Burres will get the start this afternoon, filling the vacancy left by Daniel Cabrera's elbow strain. Burres last started Aug. 31.

"He's started before, and he's probably the most stretched-out guy," Trembley said. "I considered [Lance] Cormie r, but I like having Cormier in the bullpen [last night]."

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Orioles complete games this season. Daniel Cabrera has two, and Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Waters have one each.


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