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Orioles send Jeremy Guthrie to Rockies

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies acquired veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, a move that bolsters their young rotation.

In exchange, the Rockies sent reliever Matt Lindstrom and right-hander Jason Hammel to the Orioles.

The deal for Guthrie, the Orioles' Opening Day starter three of the past four seasons, was first reported by The Baltimore Sun. Guthrie lost 17 games last season, the most in the American League, and finished with a 4.33 ERA for a team that has lost 90 or more games in six straight seasons competing with the AL East's big-spending heavyweights.

Guthrie, who turns 33 in April, agreed to a one-year, $8.2 million contract with the Rockies, avoiding an arbitration hearing that had been scheduled for Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla. He's eligible to become a free agent after the season.

Guthrie said he was surprised to hear that he'd been dealt, he told The Sun.

"This past month, month and a half, I was trying to concentrate on resolving my contract and preparing the case for it. So I think it is a huge surprise," he said, according to the report. "The timing is not what anyone, myself included, would have expected. There are times when trades occur more frequently, and this wasn't one I was prepared for."

Guthrie's agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, said it had seemed likely that the pitcher's contract would head to arbitration, according to the newspaper.

"Once informed of the trade, Jeremy decided to make a showing of good faith and agreed to a deal within the Rockies' payroll structure, since he felt it important that his relationship with his new team get off on the right foot," Van Wagenen said in a statement, according to the report. "Jeremy is excited about a fresh start with a new organization and a contending team close to home."

Given that Guthrie was free to bolt after this season, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette felt it was simply the right time to make a move.

"We explored the market for Jeremy," Duquette said in a teleconference. "We felt this would be the best deal to help our team. We are adding to the pitching staff pitchers who have good command and quality stuff."

Guthrie, pitching the past five seasons for Orioles teams that finished in or near the AL East basement, has a 47-65 career record with a 4.19 ERA over eight seasons with the Orioles and Cleveland Indians.

"'Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Baltimore anymore.' Just found out I was traded to @Rockies," read a post on Guthrie's Twitter page.

Another post on Guthrie's page read: "Head is spinning, not sure where to start-but will go w/a heartfelt THANK YOU to the @Orioles & AMAZING fans who've supported me & the team."

The acquisition of Guthrie gives the Rockies another experienced arm in their rotation, especially with lefty Jorge De La Rosa still mending after elbow surgery that sidelined him last season.

"We've been trying to find an innings eater and somebody who's pitched at the top of a rotation," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "Someone who understands how to handle that. Certainly, in Jeremy's case, he's been that type of player with the Orioles."

Guthrie will be in the mix to start on Opening Day along with hard-throwing righty Jhoulys Chacin, the ace of the staff last season. Chacin is part of the Rockies' young stable of arms, which also includes Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, who were acquired in the deal last summer that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians.

The presence of Guthrie may also save some wear and tear on the bullpen, given that he's logged at least 200 innings for the Orioles in each of the past three seasons.

Colorado has been steadily stockpiling potential starters all winter. Last month, the team traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Oakland Athletics for right-hander Guillermo Moscoso and lefty Josh Outman.

Guthrie said he's looking forward to pitching for a Rockies team that has been in the thick of the NL playoff race in recent seasons.

"That's the most exciting part for me, that's the silver lining in leaving a city and team I truly love," he said, according to The Sun. "It gives me a chance to go somewhere where you have a chance to compete this year, and I hope to be an important part of that. Hopefully, I will be a part of meaningful games throughout the season. It's an opportunity I am really grateful for."

He's also anticipating a new challenge in moving from Camden Yards, where real estate is at a premium, to Coors Field, where the thinner air at Denver's Mile High altitude has traditionally bedeviled pitchers.

"It's a challenge, but anywhere you pitch is a challenge. Camden Yards certainly can be tough, when you consider all the great players that come through," Guthrie said, according to The Sun. "I have to be down in the strike zone, but that's what I need to do regardless of where I am pitching."

Hammel was solid for the Rockies last season as he was shuffled between the bullpen and the rotation. He was 7-13 with a 4.67 ERA in 32 appearances.

Lindstrom is a former closer whom the Rockies relied on to bridge the gap to their late-inning relievers. He went 2-2 with a career-best 3.00 ERA in his first season in Denver.

"I definitely look forward to the opportunity of getting out there and helping close games down, whether it be in the seventh, eighth or ninth," Lindstrom said.

The 27-year-old has 45 career saves with the Marlins, Astros and Rockies.

Hammel and Lindstrom join an Orioles pitching staff that was dead last in the majors in team ERA (4.89) and 29th of 30 teams in batting average allowed (.277) in 2011.

To make room on their roster, the Orioles designated lefty Clay Rapada for assignment.

Duquette also said the Orioles have had some exploratory talks with the agent for Manny Ramirez, who applied for reinstatement to Major League Baseball last month.

The slugger was suspended for 100 games last year but the ban was trimmed to 50 because he sat out nearly all of last season. The suspension would start with the first game he is eligible to play after signing with a club.

"We're aware that Manny is on the market," Duquette said. "We've seen Manny work out. We're still considering the composition of this club and some of the challenges of integrating a player like Manny into our ball club and market."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.