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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.

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Orioles fall out of first place, lose fifth straight Saturday to Toronto

Orioles fall out of first place, lose fifth straight Saturday to Toronto

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 1

Winner-Happ (14-3)
Loser-Gallardo (3-3)

WHAT WENT WRONG: Yovani Gallardo walked three batters in the fifth inning. Three of them scored in a seven-run inning. 

Gallardo walked five, allowed five hits and threw 96 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. 

After two decent starts, Gallardo took a step back. He’s now gone six starts without a win. 

Mychal Givens allowed two runs in the fifth, and Odrisamer Despaigne two in the seventh.

The Orioles (58-45) have their second five-game losing streak of the season, and surrender first place to Toronto (59-45)

MORE ORIOLES: WILL ORIOLES MAKES A DEADLINE MOVE?

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Pedro Alvarez hit his first home run of the season off a left-hander to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. 

PUNCHED THEM OUT: J.A. Happ, who allowed three hits in seven-plus innings, struck out 11. 

SLUMPING ORIOLES: Jonathan Schoop (1-for-20) Mark Trumbo (2-for-28), Chris Davis (3-for-39) and Matt Wieters (2-for-25) are concurrently slumping.

LEAVE CANADA: In the Orioles’ last four games in Toronto, they’ve given up 36 games. 

ONDRUSEK DEBUTS: Logan Ondrusek, who was signed before Friday’s game, pitched a perfect sixth inning. 

UP NEXT: Chris Tillman (14-3, 3.27) faces Aaron Sanchez (11-1, 2.72) on Sunday afternoon.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Two days until deadline, it's quiet with Orioles

MLB Trade Rumors: Two days until deadline, it's quiet with Orioles

The nonwaiver trading deadline is just two days away, and Saturday has been remarkable for the lack of rumors involving the Orioles. 

The Orioles have had some interest in Cincinnati slugger Jay Bruce. Last week, the Reds had a scout in Baltimore, but the Los Angeles Dodgers now seem to have a leg up on Bruce, who is signed through 2017. 

It’s been reported that the Minnesota Twins have made Fernando Abad, Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco available. Abad could interest the Orioles if they really want to go the left-handed route, but Milone has been a disappointment, and Nolasco is way too expensive. 

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This year, Nolasco is 4-8 with a 5.13 ERA for the sad-sack Minnesota Twins, and is owed $12 million a year through next year. The Orioles are unlikely to be interested. 

If they’re going to add another starter, they’re going to have to be a substantial improvement over Vance Worley. MIlone, who is 3-3 with a 4.97 ERA this year, is certainly not. 

Oakland’s Rich Hill, who was once an Oriole, made a lot of sense, but Hill has a blister that’s prevented him from pitching since July 7, and he’s just been put on the disabled list. 

The Athletics would like outfield prospects. The best Orioles outfield prospects: Dariel Alvarez, DJ Stewart and Christian Walker, may not excite the A’s. 

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Wieters back behind plate after managing not to get ejected Friday

Wieters back behind plate after managing not to get ejected Friday

Matt Wieters is back in the Orioles lineup, playing a day game after a night game. On Friday night, Wieters was nearly tossed out of the game for complaining to home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez about a pitch in the eighth inning. 

Manager Buck Showalter rushed out to intercede, and Wieters was saved from his third lifetime ejection. His previous two, including one this year, came against Toronto. 

Wieters comments to reporters in Toronto were most interesting. 

“You know, all night, I thought they were getting the low pitch more than we were," Wieters said. "I thought they got a little bit bigger zone, but the biggest thing that frustrated me was when the umpire is telling me to get back in the box.

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“I feel like you have [to take] time and an umpire is more worried about pace of game and the players are more worried about trying to win a game. I’m trying to try to calm down and I needed to step out of the box because I thought the ball was low and he’s trying to rush me back in the box and I just didn’t appreciate that.”

When Wieters was ejected by home plate umpire Dan Bellino on Apr. 21 in Baltimore he wasn’t quite as critical, but did manage to get his point across.

“I don’t like to get them, but I said some things I probably shouldn’t have. He just hit a nerve a little bit, especially the checked swing because they do have the option to get help. It was just, I thought it was a little bit inconsistent behind the plate for most of the night,” Wieters said.