© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
ARLINGTON -- If Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira really is the short-timer in Texas that most believe, Orioles fans, players and executives might be delighted to hear their team seemingly tops his list of dream destinations.
"I grew up as a diehard Orioles fan, there's no secret about that," said Teixeira, the switch-hitting slugger and Gold Glove infielder who was Maryland's High School Player of the Year in 1997-98 for Mount St. Joseph's.
"My family still lives in Severna Park [Md.], and they'll probably live there the rest of their lives. So, it's definitely a good story. I don't think about [playing for Baltimore] too much, because I'm a Texas Ranger. In a year and a half, we'll have some fun conversations."
Teixeira, 27, is one of the most attractive players who might be moved before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, mainly because he is 15 months from free agency. He is owed $9 million this season and is arbitration-eligible in 2008, his final year under the Rangers' contractual control.
With hard-nosed negotiator Scott Boras as his agent, the Rangers harbor no illusions that Teixeira will offer them a hometown discount on his next contract or forego testing his open-market value as a free agent after next season. Teixeira has been frustrated by the Rangers' losing and frequent rebuilding, and the club knows trading him before next season might give them the best possible return on its investment.
A strained quadriceps landed Teixeira on the disabled list June 9, ending his club-record streak of 507 consecutive games played. The injury has hampered the ability of Rangers general manager Jon Daniels to make a preemptive trade this month, but Teixeira said he expects to rejoin the Rangers' lineup next Friday in Anaheim.
Teixeira, who was hitting .302 with 12 homers and 41 RBI in 61 games, termed his desire to play for Baltimore as "obvious."
"But, at the same time, I'm a Texas Ranger," he added. "I have a year and a half left here in Texas. Unless I get traded somewhere else, I'm going to be a Texas Ranger and try to win with this team here. That's what my No. 1 goal is right now. But Baltimore, obviously in the future, is a place I'd love to look at."
Taking no chances:
After seeing Teixeira greet several Orioles players with hugs before Baltimore took batting practice Friday, interim manager Dave Trembley was astute enough to greet and shake hands with the Rangers slugger.
Whether the relationship has a chance to grow long term, no one knows. But Teixeira admitted he is flattered when his father John relates the oft-heard desire of Baltimore fans to see him don an Orioles uniform.
"It really does [mean a lot]," Teixeira said. "It's real touching for my family and I to have a bunch of people say, 'Hey, when is Mark going to come back home and play?' That's really nice.
"I've got some friends [in the Orioles' clubhouse]. Corey Patterson, I work out with a little in the offseason. And Brian Roberts is a good dude over there. I root for those guys, and I root for the Orioles, except when they're playing us."
Happy to help:
Teixeira also said he'd be eager to facilitate a happy marriage between the Orioles and their first-round Draft pick, catcher Matt Wieters of Georgia Tech. Teixeira set numerous records during his three years at Georgia Tech, where he was an All-America selection and the 2000 Dick Howser Award winner as national collegiate player of the year.
"They got a great guy," Teixeira said of the Orioles' fifth overall Draft pick. "Hopefully he signs, because he's a great athlete and so poised. He's really in the mold of Jason Varitek. I'm hoping he signs with the Orioles and has a great career. If he wants to pick up the phone, I'd love to talk to him."
Mora still out: Melvin Mora said he was available to pinch-hit, but that the top of his left foot was still too swollen to play third base. Mora was out of the starting lineup for the fifth consecutive game since bruising the foot last Sunday in a home-plate collision with Angels catcher Mike Napoli. Mora said he might not be able to play the field until after the All-Star break.
"When Melvin tells me he's ready to play, he'll be back out there," Trembley said. "I'm not going to force the issue on him."
Mora said he might be back already had the injury occurred in his native Venezuela. There, he said, the swollen foot would have been treated with a poultice of tropical tree sap, wrapped in a leaf and bandage, and been fine the next day.
"I don't know what kind of tree it is, but my mother would know," Mora said. "I'd be playing today. But here, in this country, it's ice it and wait a few days."
Briefly: With Jeremy Guthrie starting on Friday in Texas, following Garrett Olson and Brian Burres in Chicago, the Orioles used three consecutive rookie starting pitchers for the first time since Sept. 6-8, 2004. The previous rookie trio was Daniel Cabrera, Matt Riley and Erik Bedard, each starting against Minnesota. ... Guthrie's second-inning wild pitch was the Orioles' 31st in 86 games. Opponents have thrown only 17 wild pitches against Baltimore. ... The Orioles entered Friday with an 8-7 record since Trembley replaced fired manager Sam Perlozzo.
Erik Bedard (6-4, 3.67) is scheduled to face Texas righty Brandon McCarthy (4-5, 6.17) in the second game of this three-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 8:35 p.m. ET.