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Konerko Talks and Tours With Angels

Times Staff Writer

The Angels’ courtship of Paul Konerko continued Tuesday, with the free-agent slugger spending much of Tuesday afternoon in Angel Stadium meeting with Manager Mike Scioscia and General Manager Bill Stoneman and touring the team’s facilities.

The Angels’ offer to Konerko is believed to be in the five-year, $60-million range, a bump from their initial offer of four years and about $48 million, and it appears their only competition for the first baseman will come from the Chicago White Sox, the team Konerko helped lead to the World Series title in October.

The Baltimore Sun, citing industry sources, is reporting in today’s editions that Konerko turned down the Orioles’ five-year, $65-million offer, which was more lucrative than offers extended by the Angels and White Sox. Chicago’s offer is believed to be in the four-year, $52-million range, but the White Sox have shown a willingness to go to five years.

The Orioles also held out little hope that Craig Landis, Konerko’s agent, would submit a counteroffer. Konerko’s decision is consistent with earlier reports that if he leaves the White Sox, he prefers to play for a West Coast team that trains near his Scottsdale, Ariz., home. The Angels train in nearby Tempe.

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Stoneman declined to comment on Konerko, nor would he address a report in the Sun, citing an unnamed source, that Konerko has an arthritic hip condition.

An Oriole official told the Sun the club was aware of the condition, which was apparently diagnosed years ago, but was not deeply concerned about it. The White Sox declined comment on Konerko’s hip, but one club official privately told the Chicago Tribune that the team was upset that the information had become public. Landis did not return several phone messages.

Konerko, who turns 30 in March, played in a career-high 158 games last season, batting .283 with 40 home runs and 100 runs batted in, and he has not gone on the disabled list in seven-plus major league seasons. He would have to pass an extensive physical before signing his next contract.

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While the Angels played host to Konerko on Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians were busy recruiting free-agent pitcher Paul Byrd, who spent much of the day touring Jacobs Field and meeting with Indian General Manager Mark Shapiro and Manager Eric Wedge.

Byrd, who went 13-12 with a 3.74 earned-run average in 31 starts for the Angels last season, received a two-year offer from the Indians, but it was unclear whether the deal included an option year.

The Orioles have offered the 35-year-old right-hander a two-year, $13-million deal with an option for a third year, the Texas Rangers have offered a two-year deal, and Byrd is believed to have a three-year, $15-million offer from another team.

The Angels’ initial offer to Byrd, who in October expressed a strong desire to return to Anaheim, was for one year and a little more than the $5 million Byrd made in 2005, but the Angels have been in discussions with Byrd’s agent and seemed poised to increase that offer.

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Byrd is no stranger to the Indian organization -- he was drafted by Cleveland in 1991, when Shapiro was the club’s farm director, and spent four seasons in the Indians’ minor league system before being traded to the New York Mets in 1994.


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