SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners have asked talented young
outfielder Adam Jones to leave his Venezuelan Winter League team
and return to the United States amid reports he's about to be included in a trade for Baltimore Orioles left-hander Erik Bedard.
Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly confirmed Sunday night the team had
requested the return of Jones, who has been expected to be
Seattle's starting right fielder when the season begins.
"We did ask Adam to come back from Venezuela," Hevly said,
declining to give a reason for the request.
Meanwhile, both Jones and Mariners relief pitcher George Sherrill have informed teammates that they are scheduled to take physicals in conjunction with the trade, a baseball source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
Jones, Sherrill, minor league pitcher Chris Tillman and a fourth undisclosed prospect are believed to make up the package of players the Orioles desire in return for the 28-year-old Bedard, who was 13-5 last season with a 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts, third in the AL, for a 93-loss team.
Tillman, who turns 20 in April, was Seattle's second-round pick in the 2006 draft. Baseball America ranks him as the organization's No. 3 prospect.
Hevly's statement followed Sunday's Seattle Times report that
Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi was making Jones the
centerpiece of a deal for Bedard. The Times, citing comments
obtained from a Venezuelan newspaper, reported that Jones said he'd
discussed the deal with Bavasi.
"I feel comfortable in Seattle," Jones told Ignacio Serrano of ESPNdeportes.com on Sunday, "but I will assume my trade to Baltimore as another challenge. I'm in the best moment of my life, although it will be strange to start with a new organization again. I will do it in spring training. Ultimately, I will be playing baseball, as always."
Saying he felt bad to leave his Venezuelan teammates early, Jones added: "I wanted to play today [Sunday] before traveling, but they wouldn't let me. I hope this means that Baltimore is going to give me the opportunity to play in the majors."
Despite Adams' comments, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail denies that a deal is in place.
"We do not have an agreement with the Mariners," MacPhail said on Sunday, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Last week, Bavasi said his team, a surprise contender last
summer until a weak starting rotation finally collapsed in
September, expects to have a newly acquired Opening Day starter on
March 31 against Texas.
"We are at the point now where we have to try to make these
moves to get that top-of-the-rotation guy, to slot the rest of the
rotation," Bavasi said Thursday. "We feel we have to make one
Baseball's tampering rules prohibit open courting of players on
other teams, and Bavasi wouldn't name Bedard last week.
But baseball officials with knowledge of Seattle's winter
efforts have been confirming for weeks that the Mariners have been
pursuing the Orioles' left-hander. Those officials spoke on
condition of anonymity because of baseball's tampering rules.
Bedard is also cheap. He is currently scheduled for an arbitration
hearing next month, with Bedard asking for $8 million per season
and Baltimore countering with $6 million.
Jones, who will turn 23 this summer, played in 41 games last
year and hit .246, getting limited action in the outfield as
Seattle played mostly its veterans into September as it tried to
keep pace in the playoff chase.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.