Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

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Keppinger, Chavez, Blanton & Bay move at meetings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels added starter Joe Blanton and reliever Sean Burnett to their retooled pitching staff. Jeff Keppinger found a new home, as did Eric Chavez.

The big deals, meanwhile, remained on deck at baseball's winter meetings.

Jason Bay, Randy Choate, Nate Schierholtz and a diamond full of players wound up in different places Wednesday, while top contenders waited for a pair of free-agent prizes to make their decisions.

The lone trade was minor, with Detroit sending left-hander Andy Oliver to Pittsburgh for a young catcher.

Former MVP Josh Hamilton and former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke remained in play. They're the driving forces in this market and depending on where they go more moves are likely to follow.

Texas would like to re-sign Hamilton, at the right price. The slugger was in Nashville this week but has left, and his agent met with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels on Tuesday night.

``Obviously, one of the bigger dominoes,'' Daniels said. ``Trying to get the first one to fall.''

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey keeps drawing attention. He lives near the Opryland Hotel and dropped in for a visit, though there's no change in his situation. Signed for next season, he wants a new contract, while several clubs, including Boston, want to trade for the reigning NL Cy Young winner.

In the meantime, some deals loomed. No telling if any of them will get done before the meetings end Thursday with the Rule 5 draft for players left off 40-man rosters.

``We wondered if one of the guys went off, (if) it would speed up. We'll see,'' Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said. ``It seems like it may be moving a little bit.''

Also in the mix: Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, amid speculation Arizona is trying to get him in a multi-team swap.

All-Star third baseman David Wright of the New York Mets became the first player to step up to the brightly lit podium in the press room. Standing at the spot where trades and signings are usually announced, his appearance was expected.

Wright was in town to talk about his $138 million, eight-year contract, the largest in team history. The lifetime .301 hitter is a six-time All-Star and turns 30 in two weeks. A Mets fan growing up, Wright said he wanted to spend his entire career with the club.

``I've never pictured myself in a different uniform,'' he said.

``It just feels like there's so much unfinished business and I'd like to finish what I've started,'' he added. ``Honestly, it wouldn't mean as much to me winning somewhere else as it would obviously winning here.''

Away from the dais where Wright spoke, inside the suites at the sprawling 2,881-room hotel, several players changed jerseys.

Keppinger agreed with the Chicago White Sox on a $12 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no announcement.

The versatile infielder hit .325 with a career-high nine home runs and 40 RBIs for Tampa Bay last season. At 32, the well-traveled Keppinger is known for making contact and has more walks than strikeouts during his eight-year career with the Rays, San Francisco, Houston, Cincinnati, Kansas City and the Mets.

Keppinger is likely to play third base for the White Sox. Kevin Youkilis finished the season at that spot for Chicago last season, then became a free agent. The New York Yankees and Arizona also had been interested in Keppinger.

Arizona wound up with Chavez, giving the corner infielder a $3 million, one-year contract, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

The 34-year-old Chavez hit .281 with 16 homers in 278 at-bats for the Yankees, seeing time at first base, third base and designated hitter. The six-time Gold Glove winner lives in the Phoenix area.

Bay and the Seattle Mariners agreed on a one-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiation said. The 34-year-old outfielder is hoping to resurrect his career with the Mariners after three disappointing and injury-plagued seasons with the Mets.

St. Louis signed Choate for its bullpen and the Chicago Cubs closed in on a deal to put Schierholtz in their outfield.

Baltimore kept outfielder Nate McLouth and Colorado re-signed pitcher Jeff Francis.

Britton feeling much better, looks to pitch this week

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Britton feeling much better, looks to pitch this week

BALTIMORE – Zach Britton had an MRI on his left ankle Monday, and no damage was found, and three days after injuring the ankle, he says he’s nearly ready to return. 

“I feel good today, walking a lot better. So, pretty much normal. I’m going to go out there and play catch. Just take it easy, baby steps. If it feels good playing catch, maybe I can progress to flat ground,” Britton said. 

He’d like to pitch on the homestand that concludes Sunday. 

“I think this week is a good timeline. It’s not going to be today, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be tomorrow or the next day,” Britton said.

Britton wasn’t available for comment after he injured the ankle on Saturday night, and looked a lot better than he did on Sunday when he used crutches and a soft boot.

“I feel a lot better. I think flexibility, range of motion is back. It’s just swollen. It’s got some bruising but as long as i can manage the pain. It think that’s going to be the biggest issue right now is does it hurt me doing baseball things? Covering first, fielding a bunt, or whatnot. Those are things that I’m going to have to test out. Whether it’s today, I’m not sure. I’m just going to go out there and play catch and see how it goes,” Britton said.

RELATED: WILL MACHADO MOVE TO SHORTSTOP WHILE HARDY IS OUT?

NOTES: Hunter Harvey, the Orioles No. 1 draft pick in 2013 who hasn’t pitched competitively since July 2014, underwent sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia. He’s expected to be out from four to six weeks. 

Manager Buck Showalter isn’t concerned about Harvey’s long absence from pitching. 

“I think if he pitches from June, July on and finishes up strong like we think he can, I think he’s OK. But you’d really like to see him get the ball every fifth day at some point there and kind of get some of that experience he needs to finish off some things,” Showalter said.

-Yovani Gallardo, who’s been on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder and rotator cuff tendinitis, is improving. 

“He’s doing good. I’m very optimistic on the return we’re going to get on some of the things he’s doing. He’s moving towards throwing before too long,” Showalter said.

-LHP Jeff Beliveau, who labrum surgery a year ago, has been assigned to Frederick. Beliveau, who pitched for the Cubs and Rays, has intrigued Showalter, and could pitch for the Orioles later this season. 

-INF/OF Jimmy Paredes is batting .318 in six rehab games for Bowie and Frederick. Paredes’ rehab stint for his left wrist injury ends on May 15.

MORE ORIOLES: HARDY WON'T PUT DATE ON EXPECTED RETURN

Will Machado move to shortstop while Hardy is out?

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Will Machado move to shortstop while Hardy is out?

BALTIMORE – Ryan Flaherty was in the original starting lineup at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base for Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees.

About 40 minutes after the lineup came out, Machado was listed as the shortstop and Flaherty at third base. 

Machado came to talk with manager Buck Showalter about the lineup change. 

“I talked to Manny in detail about it, got his feelings about it. This is the way we’re going to go tonight,” Showalter said. 

“Manny made the case he wants the Orioles to win. That’s all we talked about. What all this about [is] ‘if you want me to play third, I’ll play third. If you want me to play short, I’ll play short.’ He’s in.”

Last year, Machado started seven games at shortstop when J.J. Hardy was on the disabled list with a groin injury.

Flaherty and Paul Janish also played there. He played there twice when Hardy was out last month. 

Those were the first games Machado, who played shortstop exclusively until coming to the Orioles in Aug. 2012, had played there since. 

Flaherty subbed for Machado at third in late 2014, too.

Showalter said that Pedro Alvarez, who played there on Sunday after Hardy left the game, with an injury, is an option at third base.

“He’s played more third base than Manny has. There’s some options there. I’d like to keep them all open. I’d also like to keep from moving guys around a lot,” Showalter said. 

Flaherty, who was surprisingly sent down to Norfolk eight days ago when the Orioles wanted 13 pitchers, is happy to be back. 

“Every day up here is a good opportunity. Every time you have a chance to help the team in whatever way it is, then that’s a good opportunity,” Flaherty said. 

Flaherty hit .421 in five games with the Tides. 

Showalter is uncomfortable with a three-man bench, and the Orioles could add Janish after his wife delivers the couple’s third child this week. 

“We’d all rather get back to 12 [pitchers] and four on the bench. It’s been tough,” Showalter said. 

Hardy won't put date on expected return

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Hardy won't put date on expected return

BALTIMORE –- Buck Showalter knew J.J. Hardy was hurt during the fifth inning of Sunday’s game. A half-inning earlier, Hardy had fouled a ball off his left foot.

Showalter was removing Ubaldo Jimenez from the game, and he asked the shortstop about the foot. He said: ‘This is strange. It’s gotten real stiff and sore in a hurry.’’’

Hardy left the game after the fifth inning, and a CT Scan and MRI on Monday revealed a hairline fracture in his left foot. 

Neither nor Hardy nor the Orioles have spoken about how long he’s been out, but an industry source estimated on Monday he’d be out four to six weeks. For now, Hardy will be in a walking boot for two to three weeks. Others have estimated he could miss as long as eight weeks. 

“I had an idea after the game or when I came out of the game that something wasn’t right,” Hardy said. “Then, obviously with the X-ray, there was something they wanted to see closer. They kind of gave me a little heads-up that something could be wrong.”

Hardy missed 48 games last year and had two stints on the disabled list with a left shoulder and groin injuries. 

“After I fouled the ball off my foot, I didn’t think too much of it,” Hardy said. “I mean it hurt, but it wasn’t terrible. I jogged to first base and kind of felt the same thing, nothing terrible. Then when I got out in the field and the more I moved around, the worse it was getting instead of loosening up or going away. So, I knew it was something.” 

While he’s missed time, Hardy has never had a broken bone before. He’s not sure whether he’ll stay with the Orioles or rehab in Sarasota.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Hardy said. “I’ve been feeling as good as I can remember. I mean I don’t know the last time that I’ve felt this good. It’s definitely frustrating. I am just going to try and get back as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Chris Tillman starts as Orioles begin life without J.J. Hardy