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04/03/2002 11:17 pm ET 
Orioles acquire Gary Matthews Jr.
OF Acquired from Mets for Bale; Bigbie optioned to Rochester

The Baltimore Orioles tonight announced that they have acquired OF GARY MATTHEWS JR. from the New York Mets in exchange for LHP JOHN BALE.

Matthews, 27, will join the Orioles tomorrow. He appeared in both of the Mets games this season, flying out as a pinch-hitter on Monday and pinch-running this afternoon.

A switch-hitter, Matthews can play all three outfield positions. In his first full major league season in 2001, he batted .227 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI in 152 games, splitting the year between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. He was traded to the Mets in December.

The 6-3, 210-pound Matthews was a 13th round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 1994. He made his major league debut with the Padres in 1999 and in three seasons heading into this year batted .217 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI in 255 games.

His father, Gary Sr., spent 16 years in the majors as an outfielder and currently is a coach with the Milwaukee Brewers.

To make room for Matthews on the 25-man roster, OF Larry Bigbie was optioned to AAA Rochester. To make room for Matthews on the Orioles' 40-man roster, OF Chris Richard (left shoulder surgery) was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day Disabled List.

"Gary is a very good outfielder and gives us excellent depth at all three positions," said Syd Thrift, Orioles Vice President for Baseball Operations. "He provides us with another young veteran on the bench while allowing Larry Bigbie to play everyday at Rochester."

Bale was designated for assignment by the Orioles on Saturday. Earlier today, he had cleared waivers and was optioned to AAA Rochester. He was acquired in December 2000 from Toronto and made 14 relief appearances for the Orioles last season, going 1-0 with a 3.04 ERA.

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