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July 31, 2011

Saying goodbye to Uehara, Lee

On Saturday, the Orioles traded reliever Koji Uehara to the Rangers and first baseman Derrek Lee to the Pittsburgh Pirates, jettisoning two of the club’s more popular veterans.

It wasn’t easy to say goodbye — or sayonara, for that matter.

“It was tough [to tell Lee], just like it was with Koji. They are good people,” Showalter said. “Pittsburgh is getting a good man, a good person and a guy that’s starting to play pretty well. So it’s a good move for them and a good move for us. We like the guy we got back. But it’s bittersweet for us.”

Showalter said he knew how much Uehara enjoyed being in Baltimore, so that conversation — which included Uehara’s interpreter and a conference call with MacPhail — was difficult.

“I don’t say it was a tough day for me. It was a tough day for them,” Showalter said. “Everything was going on. Koji’s family is entrenched in Baltimore. They have found a great school for their son, and they are planning on making [Baltimore] their home. It was emotional for both of us. We both got teary.”

When the remaining Orioles relievers left the clubhouse to go to the field before Saturday’s nightcap, they tipped their caps as a salute to Uehara, who appreciated the gesture.

“Besides him being a good guy and all, this is all he knew, and you could see it,” lefty Michael Gonzalez said. “We are Americans here — you get traded, it’s not that big of a deal. But this is all he knows, and, besides his translator and therapist, he is going to a whole new team, new place.”
Center fielder Adam Jones was particularly close to Lee and said he — and Uehara — would be missed.

“I tried to learn a lot from [Lee] about being a man in this game. And he helped me a lot,” Jones said. “Both of them, it kind of [stinks] they are not here anymore. But it’s a business, and I wish the best for them. But they are late in their careers, they are not getting younger and they need to win. Everybody in this game wants to win, and I realize this is the best opportunity for them.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 10:06 PM | | Comments (0)

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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