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Originally published Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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M's would-be deal for Bedard is stalled

The Mariners' efforts to obtain Baltimore's ace left-hander Erik Bedard, seemingly on track over the weekend for a blockbuster trade centered...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Mariners' efforts to obtain Baltimore's ace left-hander Erik Bedard, seemingly on track over the weekend for a blockbuster trade centered on Seattle outfielder Adam Jones, have hit a snag.

Jones was reported Monday afternoon to still be in Venezuela, rather than heading to Baltimore for a physical exam originally scheduled for Monday or today, but then canceled.

Meanwhile, there is widespread speculation Orioles owner Peter Angelos is threatening to squelch the trade, after the teams reportedly had agreed to the basic structure of a deal that would have sent Jones, reliever George Sherrill, 19-year-old pitcher Chris Tillman and one or two other prospects to Baltimore for Bedard.

"We are where we were last night," Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations, told The Baltimore Sun on Monday. "We have no agreement."

Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi did not respond to phone messages from The Seattle Times. He told The Sun: "The stuff that has been reported is very, very premature. We've been searching for pitching on multiple fronts."

On Sunday, Jones was pulled out of the winter-league playoffs in Venezuela by the Mariners and told to return to the United States. He indicated to a reporter from the Diario Panorama newspaper of Maracaibo, Venezuela, that he was headed to Baltimore for a physical as a prelude to a Bedard trade.

"I've got to go to Baltimore this morning and handle things there," Jones said on Sunday. "I'm the centerpiece of the deal on the Mariners' side. It's an honor to get traded for such a highly talented pitcher as Bedard is."

But on Monday afternoon, Jones sent an e-mail to KOMO radio reporter Shannon Drayer saying that he was still in Venezuela.

Drayer reported on her KOMO blog that Jones was "obeying orders from his MLB team and not playing. He said he said nothing about being traded to the Venezuelan press ... Adam says he does not know what is going on, and that with his winter-league team in the finals, it sucks to not be able to help them."

The Seattle Times listened to the tape of Jones' interview with the Venezuelan newspaper via telephone, which revealed he was quoted accurately throughout.

The Mariners had confirmed on Sunday that Jones was told by them to come home. On Monday, Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly said, "We've asked him to come home. That hasn't changed."

Asked by The Sun why Jones was pulled from the lineup of his winter-league team, the Lara Cardinals, Bavasi replied, "Adam Jones has met his goals, so there was no point of leaving him in [winter ball]. He's been called from the club and sent home."

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Jones was not present at Lara's game Monday. Jones reportedly was to leave Venezuela today to fly to Phoenix. He was unable to get a flight on Monday.

The Baltimore Sun reported in its Tuesday editions that Jones was originally expected to arrive in Baltimore on Monday in preparation for a physical today, but that those plans had been canceled and no physical is scheduled.

Sherrill told The Seattle Times on Monday that he had received no word of a pending physical exam, despite a report that he had told teammates he had been asked to take one.

Angelos, the feisty 78-year-old owner of the Orioles, appears to be at the heart of the holdup. He was attending to a personal matter on Monday and not available for consultation with MacPhail. No deal will be finalized until Angelos gives his approval.

One baseball person who has dealt with Angelos said Monday, "You can't buy a bag of peanuts in Baltimore without Angelos signing off on it."

The Sun reported that the deal was being held up on the Orioles' end "and unspecified complex issues still need to be resolved for the trade to go through. One of those might be [MacPhail] getting the approval of club owner Peter Angelos."

Angelos, one of the most heavily involved — some would say meddlesome — owners in baseball, is known to have vetoed past trade efforts by previous Orioles executives.

One of most prominent recent examples of his heavy hand occurred in December 2006, when he scuttled the trade of second baseman Brian Roberts — an Angelos favorite who again is on the block — and pitcher Hayden Penn to the Braves for second baseman Marcus Giles and first baseman Adam LaRoche.

That deal had been negotiated by Jim Duquette and Mike Flanagan, who no longer head the team's baseball operations. The new man in charge, MacPhail, was said to have been promised unprecedented autonomy when he took over as president of baseball operations on June 20, 2007.

"I wouldn't be here unless I was absolutely confident that I was free to run this franchise ... the way it has to be run," he said on the day of his hiring.

MacPhail told The Sun on Monday he had been in regular contact with Angelos. "Peter knows what I know and when I know it," he said.

However, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that Angelos wasn't informed of the details of the proposed Mariners deal until late Sunday, citing a source familiar with the Orioles' internal discussions.

FOX's Ken Rosenthal reported that Angelos might prefer to sign Bedard to a contract extension, which the owner once thought was unlikely to occur. Rosenthal cited a source who said Angelos now believes Bedard would entertain such an offer if it were for at least five years. Bedard is currently eligible for free agency after the 2009 season.

Neither Bedard's agent, Mark Pieper, nor Jones' agent, Mark Humenik, could be reached for comment.

There were indications Monday that the Mariners are interested in signing free-agent outfielder Brad Wilkerson to replace Jones in right field if the deal goes through. Wilkerson, 30, hit .234 in 119 games for the Texas Rangers in 2007 with 20 homers and 62 runs batted in. In 2004, playing for Montreal, Wilkerson hit 32 homers and 39 doubles, and he scored 112 runs.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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