O's send Bigbie to Colorado for Byrnes

O's send Bigbie to Colorado for Byrnes

BALTIMORE -- Seeking a spark for a team that's slumped since the All-Star break, the Orioles' brass acquired high-energy outfielder Eric Byrnes from the Colorado Rockies for Larry Bigbie during the O's 7-2 loss to the White Sox on Friday.

Bigbie, 27, a first-round draft pick in 1999, never was able to establish himself as a consistent, everyday player. He was removed from the game after the third inning and the trade was announced during the sixth inning.

Bigbie, who struck out in the second inning, hit .248 this season with five homers and 21 RBIs. He emerged as the starting left fielder after hitting .280 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs last season but he was marred with inconsistency and injury problems. He missed 20 games this season because of a strained left hamstring and compiled a .314 on-base percentage.

Defensively, Bigbie struggled in stretches and made a couple of miscues in Wednesday's loss to Texas, admitting that the trade rumors were bothering him.

"Obviously, with all of the rumors, he was expecting something to come along," executive vice president Jim Beattie said. "Sometimes those rumors don't necessarily prove to be true but in this case they did. So he wasn't totally surprised. He said thanks. He was very good about it. But I think it was tough, the first time you're traded is always a difficult thing for a player. We didn't have a chance to talk to the player much. You hate to these kinds of things, where you have to pull someone from the game."

Byrnes, 29, was so excited, according to manager Lee Mazzilli that he said he would catch a redeye from Denver to Baltimore on Friday night and report to Camden Yards at 8 a.m. for Saturday's 1:20 p.m. ET start.

"I told him he didn't have to get here that early," Mazzilli said.

Byrnes was traded from the Oakland A's to Colorado on July 15 for left-handed pitcher Joe Kennedy, and he has spent much of the past two years as an everyday player. He hit .266 with seven homers and 24 RBIs for the A's but became expendable because of his salary ($2.2 million) and his struggles against right-handed pitching.

The Orioles envision Byrnes as their left fielder. He is a career .303 hitter against lefties.

"He's a right-handed bat we could use in our lineup right now," Mazzilli said. "This is a move we have to make. We are acquiring a pretty good ballplayer. I spoke to him on the phone. He's ecstatic. He's really looking forward to coming here. He was very excited, very high energy on the phone."

Byrnes could bring a base-stealing dynamic to the Orioles' offense. He has 37 career steals in 43 attempts, including 17 of 18 in 2004, when he also hit 20 homers with 73 RBIs.

"Defensively he'll be a big plus for us," Beattie said. "He goes after it, he plays hard and bounces off walls and doesn't leave anything when he goes out there and plays. Offensively, he's a guy that's had his moments. He's had a very good year last year and so I think he proved a little bit of what he could do. And with the energy and everything else that's something that will be good for the club."

Meanwhile, the Orioles clubhouse was stunned about the news, despite the persistent rumors about Bigbie's departure. Center fielder Luis Matos, who came up with Bigbie in the minors, was sorry to lose a friend.

"I got a chance to talk to him and say goodbye," said Matos, who replaced Bigbie in the lineup. "I feel bad because he was a buddy but he will get a chance to play everyday and put up some numbers. You hate to be the guy to come in for a player who gets traded. We all knew what was going to happen then."

Rumors were surfacing that Bigbie may never play a game in a Colorado uniform, instead being shipped to Boston for catcher Kelly Shoppach as the Red Sox attempt to pull off a blockbuster trade involving Manny Ramirez.

Two Orioles have played with Byrnes in Oakland, shortstop Miguel Tejada and reserve catcher Sal Fasano.

"Hopefully he can bring a little bit of intensity because he goes out and gives everything he has," Fasano said. "It will be fun. You hate to see a guy like Larry go. I think we're pretty pleased with it. I hope he hasn't changed in a few years. I don't think he has. He will be on SportsCenter one way or another."

Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.