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Tejada Doesn’t Want to Play Third

Times Staff Writer

The Angels’ efforts to acquire slugger Miguel Tejada hit a major snag Saturday when the Baltimore shortstop said he had no desire to move to third base, the position the Angels planned to move Tejada to if they could complete a deal with the Orioles.

Sources also said the Angels’ offer of pitcher Ervin Santana and triple-A shortstop Erick Aybar wouldn’t be enough to land Tejada. In addition to Santana, Baltimore has asked for one of the organization’s top position-playing prospects, second baseman Howie Kendrick or shortstop Brandon Wood.

But Kendrick, who is batting .471 (16 for 34) with five doubles and 10 runs batted in for the Angels in his last eight games, is virtually untouchable, and the Angels have balked at trading Wood, who is batting .277 with 22 homers and 69 RBIs in 103 games at double-A Arkansas.

As of Saturday, the Orioles had not asked Tejada if he’d be willing to move to third. While the 30-year-old might be open to a switch later in his career, he has no interest now.

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“I don’t want to go anywhere to play third base,” Tejada told reporters from the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. “Shortstop is the position I’ve always played. I don’t want to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll play third base.’ That’s not an easy position. I don’t want to disappoint myself or anybody else.”

Speaking about the transition from shortstop to third, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said Tejada “is very athletic ... but the first thing is, a player’s heart has to be in it.”

Tejada’s isn’t.

“If I need to make a move, I’ll make it, but I don’t think right now,” Tejada said. “I feel I can still play short.”

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The Angels, who lost out on Milwaukee left fielder Carlos Lee and Cleveland first baseman Ben Broussard, are also pursuing Washington slugger Alfonso Soriano and several corner infielders.

Because of Bartolo Colon’s triceps tendinitis and Kelvim Escobar’s balky elbow, General Manager Bill Stoneman probably would need to make a parallel move to acquire a pitcher, possibly Philadelphia’s Jon Lieber or Cory Lidle, if he uses Santana in a deal for a hitter.

“We have a number of very competitive, aggressive offers out there that involve players who would help the clubs we’re talking to,” Stoneman said. “I’m optimistic. Certainly, something could happen.”

The Angels aren’t getting their hopes up. In six years as a GM, Stoneman has not made a major move before the July 31 trade deadline.

“If history holds true, knowing Stoneman’s track record, nothing is going to happen,” reliever Brendan Donnelly said. “A rumor is a rumor until it becomes fact.”

With Monday’s deadline nearing, Stoneman intimated that talks had reached the final-offer stage, so it’s doubtful the Angels would sweeten their deal to the Orioles.

“Most of us who are buyers are waiting now,” Stoneman said. “If you don’t have your best foot forward by now, not a whole lot is going to change in a day or two.”

Santana seemed unfazed by the speculation. “I don’t care about a trade; I don’t think about it,” he said. “I’m just getting ready for Monday’s game.”

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After striking out on six pitches in two at-bats Saturday, Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who started at designated hitter, was removed from the game because of fatigue. “He just was sick,” Scioscia said. “He didn’t feel great coming in and thought he could DH. He was just zapped.” ... Chone Figgins had 11 putouts in center field, the most in a single game since Ken Griffey Jr. had 11 for Seattle on June 12, 1996, at Minnesota. The major league record is 12, done 11 times.


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