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.