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Patterson, Orioles agree on $4.3M, one-year deal

BALTIMORE -- Center fielder Corey Patterson avoided
arbitration with the Baltimore Orioles, agreeing Friday to a $4.3
million, one-year contract.

Patterson had a career-high 45 stolen bases last season and
batted .276 -- 61 points higher than he hit in 2005 with the Chicago
Cubs. He had 16 homers, 53 RBIs and scored 75 runs.

The 27-year-old Patterson was asking for $4.6 million, and the
Orioles offered $4 million. Patterson also can make $150,000 each
for 500 and 520 plate appearances.

"I think both sides are pleased. Now I can fully concentrate on
the 2007 season," Patterson said Friday from Atlanta in a phone
call to The Associated Press.

Obtained in January 2006 in a trade with the Cubs, Patterson was
initially used sparingly by Baltimore. He was batting .067 on April
18 before taking over in center field for an injured David Newhan;
by the end of the month Patterson was batting .286.

Patterson remained in the starting lineup, except for a 15-game
stretch in which he was sidelined after injuring his right shoulder
while making a catch on Aug. 29 at Texas.

His 45 stolen bases -- on 54 attempts -- was tied for the third in
the AL and was the third-highest single-season total in Orioles
history. He had steals in nine straight games from May 25-June 7,
the longest streak in the majors since Rickey Henderson had a
similar nine-game run in 1986.

In addition, he did not ground into a double play in 499 plate
appearances. That was the sixth-highest total without a GIDP over
the last 73 seasons, according to STATS, Inc.

Patterson will enter spring training as the projected starting
center fielder.

"If I'm able to maintain my versatility, I can help the Orioles
win games," he said. "A lot of players are one-dimensional, but I
want to do things like get base hits, steal bases -- and hit home
runs."

It is possible, however, that newcomer Jay Payton could see
action against left-handed pitching. Patterson, a left-handed
batter, hit only .207 against lefties.

"The only person I compete against is myself," Patterson said.
"Every year, I treat every opportunity as if I'm a rookie. That
was I always stay hungry."

Left-hander Erik Bedard is the lone Oriole remaining in
arbitration. Bedard is asking for $4 million; the Orioles have
offered $2.7 million.