Inside Pitch: Byrnes Here To Stay?

Eric Byrnes had his best season in 2004.

Rumors of a trade that would send Eric Byrnes to the New York Mets or Arizona Diamondbacks have flown over the last couple of weeks, but the popular outfielder was still a member of the A's at the end of the week.<br><br> Multiple newspapers in New York reported the A's would send Byrnes, and perhaps reliever Chad Bradford, to the New York Mets for outfielder Mike Cameron.

But an A's source said there was no deal with the Mets or D'backs and added it was just as likely the A's would open spring training with the current roster.

It goes to show how far Byrnes has come that he would be the subject of so many trade rumors. He was never a bonus baby coming out of college, rarely on the top-10 prospect lists for the organization, and he's had to fight for a job every spring training since 2001.

Last year, Byrnes hit .283 with 20 home runs and 73 RBIs in a career-high 569 at-bats. He began the year as the fourth outfielder but wrestled the starting job away from Bobby Kielty, and it looked as if he might finally go to spring training with a job guaranteed.

The acquisition of Charles Thomas, one of three players arriving from Atlanta in the Tim Hudson trade, means that Byrnes will be looking over his shoulder as this spring begins. But he's still the starter at this point.

Just recently, Byrnes returned to the Dominican Republic, where his all-out, hair-on-fire style makes him one of the most beloved players in the winter league. The locals call him "Captain America," and Byrnes loves playing in the country. Byrnes has credited the Dominican Winter League for helping him stay sharp and earn a spot on the Opening Day roster each of the last four years.

A substantial raise will be coming to Byrnes from the $328,000 he made last year in salary arbitration. His agent requested $2.5 million, while the A's have offered $2 million. The sides will likely meet somewhere in the middle. The A's source said the team doesn't need to make any additional trades to meet payroll and dismissed the Bradford rumor as media speculation.

The Mets, and by extension the New York media, are shopping Cameron after signing center fielder Carlos Beltran last week. Cameron reportedly isn't thrilled about moving to right field to make room for Beltran although he has softened his stance since the signing. The A's pursued Cameron as a free agent after the 2003 season, but the Mets offered more money (three years, $19.5 million) and Cameron wanted to play on the East Coast.

Cameron, who turned 32 on Jan. 8, hit .231 with 30 home runs, 76 RBIs and 143 strikeouts in 493 at-bats last season. He injured his left wrist on Sept. 21, and the Mets announced before Christmas that he will miss the start of the 2005 season, perhaps all of April.

He will make $6 million each of the next two seasons, although $1 million is deferred each year.

Bordick to be enshrined

Former A's star shortstop Mike Bordick will be inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame on July 31. Bordick, who played for the University of Maine and grew up in Winterport, ME, is one of the best baseball players to come from the snowy state. The 14-year major league veteran made his mark with the glove during his seven seasons with Oakland. Bordick appeared in the 1990 World Series as a rookie and was a .300 hitter on the A's 1992 squad that won the American League West title. He finished his career a .262 hitter.

Bordick set a major league record for errorless games and chances for shortstops in 2002. He went 110 games and 544 chances without making an error at short, mostly for the Baltimore Orioles. Bordick will be one of 11 people inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in July. He retired from Major League Baseball after the 2003 season.

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