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O's deal Guthrie to Colorado

BALTIMORE — For the past few seasons, Jeremy Guthrie had the burden of being the top starting pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, which meant he took the mound countless times to face American League East playoff teams such as the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays.

On many of those occasions, Guthrie, A) did not get much run support, and/or B) made one or two bad pitches that resulted in a run-scoring hit that led to another loss on a team that has not had a winning record since 1997.

Guthrie will no longer have to worry about those challenges in the tough AL East. The Ashland High graduate and Roseburg native was traded Monday by the Orioles to the Colorado Rockies for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom.

Some of the new challenges for Guthrie will include pitching in the Mile High City, Denver, and making his first appearance in the National League. Guthrie lives in Utah during the off-season with his family.

"At first, you're a little bit sad thinking about the people you're leaving behind," Guthrie told masnsports.com on Monday. "I've always been grateful to the Orioles fans and even more so now that I'm looking back on it. I really enjoyed interacting and playing in front of them as much as you could ever imagine."

"This is my favorite team I played on with the Orioles in terms of the 25 guys and the coaches, and I'll miss them probably more than I even realize right now," Guthrie told the website. "The friendships have meant a lot to me. Those are the things that come to mind. And I really believe this team has a lot of good parts. I think they'll win and that will be hard for me. It will be hard not being part of it when I see them winning, which I expect them to do."

In his major-league career, Guthrie is 47-65 (.420) with an ERA of 4.19. He made his big-league debut with Cleveland in 2004 and made 16 appearances in parts of three years with the Indians without getting a decision. He joined Baltimore prior to the 2007 season.

He was the Opening Day starter for the Orioles in 2011.

"We spoke to a number of teams about Jeremy Guthrie," Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, told reporters Monday. "He has been a dependable pitcher for us but we feel this is a good deal to help our team. We thought this was a good opportunity to make a trade that strengthens our ballclub. I want to thank Jeremy for his solid work with the Orioles and wish him the best of luck in Colorado."

"We explored the market for Jeremy Guthrie knowing that he would be a free agent at the end of the season. We felt this was the best deal for our team because we got pitching back," Duquette added.

Guthrie told mlb.com the Rockies had consistently shown an interest in him.

"I guess that's the silver lining in the big change," he said. "I get a chance to go to a city and play for a team that's ready to win now and ready to go after it and doing everything in their power to do that. I'm excited to pitch meaningful games all season, right from the start."

Though trade rumors had swirled around Guthrie last summer, he was caught off guard Monday.

"The trade was very surprising," he told mlb.com. "Especially the timing of it."

Guthrie was seeking $10.25 million in arbitration, with Baltimore submitting a $7.25 million figure when the numbers were turned in last month.

"I told (my agent) whatever, let's just work out a deal, let's get it done," Guthrie said of settling so quickly with the Rockies. "I don't think anybody at that point was prepared to get a hearing. We can move forward now without any distractions."

Last season, the right-handed Guthrie was 9-17 with an ERA of 4.33 in 34 games. He started 32 of them, and he had the most losses in the AL.

Guthrie, who turns 33 in April, played in college at BYU and Stanford and was a first-round pick of Cleveland in 2002.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Guthrie agreed to a one-year $8.2 million contract with the Rockies. That avoided an arbitration hearing that had been slated for Monday in Florida.

"There aren't many things the last five years that I don't remember," Guthrie told masnsports.com. "The ones I think of right away include my first opening day at Camden Yards, seeing the festivities, having never been on an Opening Day roster and seeing what it's all about in that city and that community. There are countless memories and I don't anticipate forgetting those moments ever. I think everything that happened the past five years helped me grow and my family grow. My five years in Baltimore are a huge part of my family's lives and the foundation for what's going on the rest of our time here."

Lindstrom is a native of Rexburg, Idaho, and made his big league debut with the Marlins in 2007.

"He has experience as a closer and a setup man in the seventh and eighth innings and I think strengthens our club," Duquette said.

Lindstrom had 23 saves for Houston in 2010 and was 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 63 games out of the bullpen last year with the Rockies.

Hammel was born in South Carolina and went to high school in South Kitsap, Wash. He began his big-league career with Tampa Bay in 2006.

"We are essentially replacing Guthrie's innings (as a starter) with Hammel," Duquette said. "Jason has spent time in the American League with Tampa Bay."

Hammel was 7-13 with an ERA of 4.76 last year for the Rockies in 32 games, with 27 starts.

David Driver is a freelance writer in Maryland and can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com