After a two-year hiatus, former Baltimore Orioles star Miguel Tejada is rejoining the O’s after agreeing to a one-year, $6-million contract according to a number of reports. He is expected to move from his traditional shortstop position to third base.
His first stint with the Orioles from 2004-2007 was full of offensive production, but was also not without controversy.
Tejada was a three-time All-Star for the Orioles. He led the American League with 150 RBIs in 2004 and paced the league with 50 doubles in 2005.
In four seasons with the O’s, Tejada hit .311 with 102 home runs and 429 runs batted in.
Tejada has been linked to the baseball steroid era and in 2009 was the first high-profile player convicted of a crime related to steroids.
Former teammate Rafael Palmeiro claimed that Tejada mistakenly injected him with a tainted substance in 2005, resulting in a positive steroid test for the former Baltimore first baseman.
In February 2009, Tejada pleaded guilty to misleading Congress and admitted he withheld information about an ex-teammate's use of performance-enhancing drugs when questioned in 2005 by congressional investigators.
He acknowledges purchasing human growth hormone while playing for the Oakland A’s, but claims that he threw them away without ever using the drugs. Prosecutors were never able to provide evidence to refute that claim.
In December 2007, Tejada was traded by the Orioles to the Houston Astros for a number of major league players including Luke Scott, Matt Albers, and Dennis Sarfate.
Tejada gained prominence with the Oakland A’s as he won the AL MVP Award in 2002 and hit 156 home runs and drove home 604 runs in seven seasons.
As a member of the Astros for the last two seasons, Tejada was a NL All-Star both seasons and hit .298 with 27 home runs and 152 RBI.
Once among the most durable players in the league with six straight seasons of playing in every game, the 35-year-old played in 158 games in each of the last two seasons.
While Tejada has shown that he can still be a very productive player, the Orioles will not be getting quite the same run-producer they had the first go-around.
Tejada has not hit more than 18 home runs in the last three seasons and last cracked the 30 home run plateau in 2004. He drove in 86 runs a year ago and last reached 100 RBI in 2006.
With slick-fielding Cesar Izturis prepared for his second season as shortstop for the Orioles, Tejada is expected to shift to third base, a position he has never played at the major league level.
Ironically, the Orioles first discussed the possibility of Tejada moving to third base before trading him in 2007, but he felt at the time that he was not ready to give up his familiar spot at shortstop.
He will fill the spot that has been held for most of the past decade by Melvin Mora, who the Orioles chose not to re-sign following the 2009 season. Baltimore signed former Colorado Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins in December, but he is now expected to see action at first base as well as in a utility role.
These additions further strengthen a starting lineup that could be among the best in the American League. However, for the Orioles to succeed in 2010 they must improve a pitching staff that ranked last in the American League while relying primarily on rookie pitchers.
Baltimore has boosted their pitching staff in the offseason with the acquisition of veteran starter Kevin Millwood and reliever Mike Gonzalez.
The Orioles finished with a 64-98 record a year ago and have not had a winning season since reaching the American League Championship Series in 1997.
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