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Tigers meet with Ordonez


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Tigers officials meet with Ordonez

Dombrowski, Trammell visit slugger, agent in Florida

By Jason Beck / MLB.com


DETROIT -- The biggest news to come out of Day 1 of the Tigers' winter caravan had more to do with who wasn't there than who was.

Neither president/general manager Dave Dombrowski nor manager Alan Trammell were in attendance when the Tigers held their scheduled luncheon with media members Monday at Greater Grace Temple. However, both had a pretty good excuse. Instead of dining with reporters, they were wining and dining free agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez.


Dombrowski and Trammell made a quick trip down to South Florida for an informal meeting with Ordonez and agent Scott Boras. It's believed owner Mike Ilitch, who has a winter home in Florida, also was involved to some extent.


Team vice president and assistant GM Al Avila emphasized that the meeting was "preliminary" and that no deal is close. Ordonez did not hold a workout for the Tigers to demonstrate the health of his left knee, though published reports have stated that Boras is scheduling a workout for interested teams.


By meeting face-to-face, however, the Tigers have become the first team to step up efforts to sign Ordonez, one of the final two prominent free agents still available. First baseman Carlos Delgado is the other, though the Tigers have no interest in him. The Cubs and Orioles have also reportedly talked with Boras about Ordonez, though no club is likely to make an offer until he undergoes a workout. The Rangers could also reportedly enter the pursuit now that their negotiations with Delgado have broken off without a deal. All interested teams have been going over medical reports


Not only has the Tigers' interest in Ordonez picked up, but so has the team's willingness to comment on it. Both Dombrowski and Trammell told fans Saturday at TigerFest that the team is talking with Ordonez. Though they wouldn't elaborate much further, it was the first public admission from them that they're interested.


Where they go from here will be interesting. Much like the Tigers' successful pursuit of Ivan Rodriguez last year, Ordonez is expected to remain unsigned into February as the countdown to Spring Training reaches the final couple of weeks. The main reason is his health; Ordonez missed much of last season with a left knee condition known as bone marrow edema. He traveled to Austria last fall to undergo a cutting-edge procedure that isn't yet cleared to be performed in the United States. He was finally cleared to resume baseball activities earlier this month.


While other teams might well match the Tigers' interest, none of them have the history that Boras and the Tigers do with creatively structuring a deal. A year ago around this time, the two sides were negotiating a four-year contract for Rodriguez that included a clause allowing the Tigers to get out of the contract after two years should he spend more than a specified amount of time on the disabled list due to a lumbar spinal injury.


That kind of creativity could come in handy with Ordonez. For now, though, they're practicing the art of conversation.


Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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