Notes: Mora contract talks stalled
Self-imposed extension deadline passes without resolution
BALTIMORE -- The window appears to have slammed shut on Melvin Mora's proposed contract extension. The third baseman's self-imposed deadline came and went on Sunday, but the two sides didn't move any closer to a resolution.
"If they come with something, of course, we're going to talk. But I don't want to go out this season thinking about that," said Mora. "I just want to let the fans know that my price went down before they answered to us. We're not supposed to do that, but we did because we want to make the deal done. They haven't come up at all."
Despite constant contact between the two sides, Mora said that the Orioles haven't made a formal offer since late February. That proposal, believed to be for three years and $24 million, was around $6 million less than Mora's initial request. The veteran said his agent offered to split the difference, but Baltimore wouldn't budge.
"That's the problem. We haven't heard [anything] from them," he said. "They've stayed where they've been since Feb. 21. We've come down before they answered. Like I told my agent, we're not supposed to do that after not hearing an answer from them. But we came down because we want to make the deal done."
Jim Duquette, the team's vice president of baseball operations, addressed the subject but refused to go into specifics.
"Nothing's really changed since yesterday," he said after Baltimore's Sunday workout. "We're not going to talk about it every day or give daily updates on the thing. We'll continue to have dialogue, and that's all we're going to [say] about it."
The team may take that stance, but Mora has had plenty to say. The two-time All-Star has consistently said that he'll test the market if he doesn't have a deal in place by Opening Day. He's also said that he doesn't want the negotiations hanging over his head during the season. He just wants to concentrate on baseball, and both sides understand that perspective.
"He's been clear since Day 1. When Opening Day's here, he doesn't want to have to think about it," said Duquette. "That's the way to go about it. The dialogue should be between us and the agent anyway. That's why it's set up the way it is."
That may be the case, but Mora's adamant about his deadline. He said he still has to talk to his agent, but as far as he's concerned, the issue has already been decided.
"If they came back with us and tell us something by today, we'll sit down and talk about it," he said. "The season starts tomorrow."
"He's a professional, and however the negotiations finish, I think he's going to play the season and I think he's going to have a great year," said Duquette. "I don't think it will affect him at all."
Batter up: Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo named his Opening Day lineup on Sunday, but there weren't many surprises involved.
The front five -- Brian Roberts, Luis Matos, Mora, Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons -- are all holdovers from last year's team. The roster gets a little different after that, with Kevin Millar, Jeff Conine, Javy Lopez and Ramon Hernandez rounding out the bottom of batting order.
"The one thing we've been able to do with our lineup is put professional hitters all the way through our lineup," said Perlozzo. "I don't see an easy out in that lineup. In that respect, I feel good about the fact that we have a chance to get a hit every time someone steps to the plate."
Lopez has only batted eighth for one at-bat with the Orioles, but he's had some historical success in that slot. In 64 games out of the eight-hole, Lopez is a .276 hitter (40-for-145) with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs.
"It doesn't matter. It's something that I know for a fact is going to change," said Lopez, speaking of the batting order. "I'm not worried about that, to be honest. All I have to worry about is staying healthy and trying to get my timing back."
Conine, Matos and Gibbons are Perlozzo's starting outfielders, an arrangement that leaves Nick Markakis, Corey Patterson and David Newhan on the bench. The manager said it should be difficult to juggle that group all season, but he also said that everyone will get a chance to state their case for more playing time.
"It's not going to be an easy task. I'm hoping it's going to be a very difficult task, actually," he said. "I'll welcome that challenge. We'll do the best we can for a while. If we have a problem, maybe we'll have to do something."
Pressure gauge: Roberts may have used Spring Training to put his left elbow injury completely behind him, but Perlozzo is still watching his second baseman carefully. Perlozzo said that he wants to make sure Roberts is well rested before he signs off on playing him every day.
"Obviously, the first game is not a problem. And we've got a day off [Tuesday], so the second game shouldn't be a problem," he said. "Then we'll check on him after that and see how he's reacted to playing full nine-inning games back-to-back. And we'll see how the weather goes. That could play a factor in it."
Pep talk: Perlozzo gathered his players before Sunday's workout and delivered a short speech that emphasized the state of the team. He told the media that he was pleased with the way his team reacted, especially with distractions caused by the World Baseball Classic and wide-open competitions for some full-time jobs.
"I told the club just a little bit ago that they had weathered a pretty disruptive spring," he said. "Even the times I wasn't happy, they battled through it. The last five days or so, they've picked up their intensity. And I think they're ready."
Quotable: "I am ready to go play. That's what I think. I am ready to go play and try to make the team win in my final year." -- Mora, talking about his mindset on the eve of Opening Day
Coming up: The Orioles will begin the regular season at home on Monday against the Devil Rays. Rodrigo Lopez will get the ball, and he'll be matched up with Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.