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Notes: Bedard agrees to one-year deal

Notes: Bedard agrees to one-year contract

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Erik Bedard and the Orioles reached an agreement on a one-year contract worth $3.4 million on Saturday, an accord that will keep the two sides from attending an arbitration hearing later in the month. The deal represented a small victory for Bedard, who had asked for a $4 million salary for the upcoming season.

Baltimore countered with a $2.7 million offer, and the midpoint between the two proposals would've been $3.35 million. Bedard, the team's likely Opening Day starter, seemed glad to be done with the process. The southpaw said it wasn't much of a distraction, but he admitted that he didn't want to hear the team plead its case against him.

"It's always hard," he said. "Obviously, you're not going to take everything seriously. But some things I'm sure they would've said would've stuck forever. That's hard to forget, but we didn't go through that process and I'm happy for it."

Bedard was Baltimore's last pending arbitration case. Corey Patterson and Brian Roberts both settled at the midpoint between their proposals and the team's standing offer, and Rodrigo Lopez was traded to Colorado well ahead of a potential hearing. Now, the front office can get down to deciding who belongs on the active roster.

"We have reached an agreement but are still waiting for it to be finalized. We feel like it is certainly a good deal for the player and we're happy to get through this process," executive vice president of baseball operations Mike Flanagan said. "We feel that he's got that [raise] now, and we can put this all behind us.

"He's the last player we had unsigned, and we're happy we can focus on baseball."

Bedard, who will turn 27 in the first week of March, was fully healthy for the first time in his career in 2006. The former sixth-round pick set career highs in wins (15), starts (33), innings pitched (196 1/3) and strikeouts (171). He made $1.625 million in 2006, and he will double that wage for 2007.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," he said about the payday. "I guess, at the end of the year, when I've played the whole year and made the 3.4 million, maybe I'll feel more secure. But I don't know, it's not a big deal."

Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said he was happy to hear that Bedard was signed. Perlozzo also said that he sees some subtle differences in the way Bedard carries himself this spring, as opposed to last one.

"I think he's more comfortable and more confident in his ability," he said. "He took his game up another level. He's pretty sharp. He knows what's going on. He knows the ins-and-outs. ... I think you see a comfort zone with him where he knows that he has good stuff and knows how to pitch. I think he's just concentrating on doing a good job again."

Another early arrival: Aubrey Huff arrived at Baltimore's Spring Training complex Saturday, two days before the rest of the position players are expected to report. Starters Jay Payton and Nick Markakis have worked out at the complex, as have potential reserves Adam Stern, Jeff Fiorentino, Jason Dubois and Roger Cedeno.

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Huff, who has hit at least 20 home runs for five straight seasons, said he was excited to get ready for the regular season. The left fielder and first baseman spent the first five-plus seasons of his career with the Devil Rays before moving to Houston via a midseason trade in 2006. Now, he's happy to be back in the American League East.

"I've never been so excited to come to Spring Training," Huff said. "Unless it was my first year in big-league camp with the [Devil Rays], this is about it -- just to be able to go to a new city and break from camp and go to a new city to start the season. In Tampa, you're in St. Pete. You broke camp, you went next door. It wasn't really anything big.

"This is something different. It will be fun for me this year."

Huff, who said at his introductory press conference that he remained thankful for his time in Tampa Bay, showed a different side Saturday. When asked about his former team, Huff opined about how tough it is to play when there's little or no chance to contend from the first day of Spring Training forward.

"As soon as you got to camp with the Devil Rays, you pretty much knew you had no shot," he said. "Even this year, people think that you have the Yankees and the Red Sox, but you look at the overhaul they've done with the bullpen here, and one through nine, I think it's one of the most balanced offenses in baseball, really.

"We go as far as the starting pitching goes, and there's a tremendous ceiling with these guys."

Perlozzo said he's still not sure where he'll play Huff this season. Most likely, the slugger will split time between the outfield, first base and designated hitter. Perhaps, from time to time, he'll also play third base.

"I wrangle with it. I'm kind of going to wait and see," Perlozzo said. "I don't want to lock myself down into anything. I think Aubrey should be in the lineup the majority of the time, if not all the time. I think that's the kind of player he is. We'll take a look at him and then we'll decide how much we want to maneuver him."

Getting antsy: Perlozzo said that the Orioles had another productive day on the practice field, but he admitted that he's looking forward to the rest of the position players arriving next week. Reporting day for the position players is Monday, and the first full-squad workout will follow Tuesday.

"I'm ready for them to come in, but these are necessary days that we need to get done," he said. "It gives me a chance to learn half of the guys. I like being able to concentrate on some pitching for a little while."

Quotable: "I just told him, 'What's fair is fair. And if they don't want to give me fair, fine, we'll go to arbitration.' That's how it works." -- Bedard, on what he told his agent as far as negotiating strategy

Spencer Fordin 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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