Orioles get Norris in quiet trade-deadline day

In the playoff mix for a second straight year, the Baltimore
Orioles made the biggest move on a quiet trade-deadline day,
acquiring Bud Norris to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox.

Hoping to catch the NL West-leading Dodgers, the Arizona
Diamondbacks filled a hole in their bullpen Wednesday by sending
struggling 20-game winner Ian Kennedy to San Diego for lefty
reliever Joe Thatcher.

Boston put the pressure on Baltimore by picking up 2007 NL Cy
Young Award winner Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox less than
24 hours earlier in a three-team trade. The deal was finalized
quickly in part because the Detroit Tigers were eager to protect
themselves in case shortstop Jhonny Peralta is suspended for his
involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs
scandal.

”The frank reality is that I do not know what is going to
happen with Jhonny, but with this move, we now feel well protected
if there is a long suspension,” Tigers general manager David
Dombrowski said.

With all eyes on the Yankees because of Alex Rodriguez’s likely
suspension by Major League Baseball for his role in the
wide-ranging drug case, New York never could work out a deal with
the Phillies for corner infielder Michael Young, who is staying –
for now – with Philadelphia.

San Francisco also held onto left-hander Javier Lopez and the
Los Angeles Angels kept second baseman Howie Kendrick after sending
Alberto Callaspo to Oakland late Monday.

Other than a few other minor swaps Wednesday, baseball’s
executives did much of their work in the weeks leading up to the 4
p.m. EDT non-waiver trade cutoff.

”In general I just think everybody was dealing with a relative
level of frustration knowing that the strength wasn’t there, the
bona fide help, per se, across the board was going to be very tough
to fulfill their needs,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said
after the deadline passed.

The busy Cubs sent Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees, Matt Garza to
Texas, Scott Feldman to Baltimore and Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers.
Francisco Rodriguez, Marc Rzepczynski, Callaspo, Scott Downs and
Jesse Crain also switched teams this month.

The NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals
and the struggling World Series champion Giants were among several
teams that chose to stand pat Wednesday in a tepid market.

In the midst of a revival that has an entire city brimming with
Bucs fever, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington reluctantly
held back from making any deals.

”We talk a lot about, we don’t want to do something stupid,”
Huntington said. ”We were willing to do something stupid, we just
didn’t want to do anything insane.”

Teams can make trades for the rest of the season, but it gets
riskier. Players must first pass through waivers, meaning they can
be claimed by another club before a deal takes place.

For a player to be eligible for the postseason with his new
team, swaps must be completed before Aug. 31.

On Wednesday, Houston also sent outfielder Justin Maxwell to
Kansas City and the Dodgers picked up backup catcher Drew Butera
from Minnesota and sent him to the minors.

Also, Seattle traded minor league infielder Robert Andino to the
Pirates for a player to be named or cash.

The young Astros, with the worst record in baseball at 35-70,
dealt reliever Jose Veras – to Detroit on Monday.

Norris only had to walk down the hall to join his new team with
Houston in Baltimore. Outfielder L.J. Hoes, one of two prospects
sent to Houston, was initially in the Orioles’ lineup but ended up
getting the start for the Astros. Class-A left-hander Josh Hader
was the other player in the deal.

A 28-year-old right-hander, Norris helps fortify a rotation that
will be without injured Jason Hammel for at least the next two
weeks.

In his fifth big league season, Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in
21 starts this year. He has a lifetime record of 34-46 and is under
team control through 2015.

”I’m excited for the future,” Norris said. ”I pitched my way
into this situation to be traded and help out a team. This
(Baltimore) team is a young club, they know how to contend. They
had an amazing year last year. I just want to be any piece of the
puzzle I can to help this team keep pushing to the World
Series.”

Baltimore began Wednesday five games back of Boston in the AL
East and in the second wild-card position.

The Diamondbacks have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the surging
Dodgers and needed lefty relief help. Thatcher is 3-1 with a 2.10
ERA in 50 games this season. He has limited left-handed batters to
a .215 average.

”It’s exciting to get traded. It’s a big deal. It brings
excitement to be in a pennant race,” Thatcher said. ”That is all
you ask for, is to win. I’m looking forward to getting over there
and helping out and doing whatever they need from me.”

The Diamondbacks also got 23-year-old right-hander Matt Stites,
who is 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 14 saves in 46 games with Double-A
San Antonio.

Kennedy, 21-4 two seasons ago, is 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 21
starts and hasn’t won a game in two months.

He’s expected to start Sunday at Petco Park against the New York
Yankees, the team that took him in the first round of the June 2006
draft.