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Orioles trade Riley to Rangers for Nivar

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JUPITER, Fla. (AP) _ The Baltimore Orioles finally gave up on pitcher Matt Riley, trading the left-hander to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday for outfielder Ramon Nivar.

Riley made his debut with Baltimore in 1999, two years after being drafted in the third round. After appearing in three games in '99, he didn't suit up for the Orioles again until 2003.

He went 3-4 last season and is 4-4 lifetime with a 5.40 ERA in 19 games.

``It might be just a matter of timing for him,'' Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said. ``Matt certainly has the talent to do something, but he needs to be more consistent.''

The list of Riley's misdeeds is far more extensive than his accomplishments. He's been late for practice, ignored his coaches, and in 2000 was arrested for participating in a bar fight. As recently as last July, he betrayed the trust of the team by driving home to Baltimore after being sent to Philadelphia early to rest up for a starting assignment.

``I just wasn't consistent. There were injuries, some problems off the field, discipline problems,'' Riley said. ``I'm disappointed, but I'm also excited about a new start. I've got a lot of great friends here, but there comes a time when you have to move on and take another step somewhere else.''

Riley was penciled into the No. 5 spot in Baltimore's rotation when camp got underway, but had an 11.57 ERA in five games and fell behind Rick Bauer and Bruce Chen in the competition for the fifth slot.

``What we have right now, I just didn't see him being that guy,'' Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. ``This gives him a chance to stay in the big leagues. I wasn't sure he could come out of the 'pen and do the job.''

But that's exactly where Riley will fit in with Texas _ at least for now. He is expected to be a member of the bullpen when the team breaks camp.

``He's youthful, left-handed and has a good arm. He's a player we can look at in the present,'' Rangers general manager John Hart said. ``When you have a chance to trade a utility player to get a youthful left-handed starter, that's a deal you have to make.''

Riley was out of options, and the Orioles figured they would lose him if they dropped him from the 25-man roster. Instead, they traded him to Texas.

``He wasn't going to get an opportunity to pitch here,'' Beattie said. ``The next option is to put him on outright waivers, and we didn't want to do that. We've been working to see what our options are, and got it nailed down today.''

Riley saw it coming.

``This is a cutthroat time. Either I've got to be here for good or it's time to let me go,'' Riley said. ``At least the Orioles were loyal enough to send me someplace where I'm going to play. I'm not surprised. I'd be lying if I said I don't read around, listen for things. So I kind of knew something was going on with Texas.''

Nivar played 19 games with the Rangers in 2003. He was one of two rookies to make Texas' opening day roster last year, but was sent to the minors on April 23 after going 4-for-18 in seven games.

He was placed on the Orioles' 40-man roster and will join the team on Thursday in Oklahoma City, where Baltimore will face the St. Louis Cardinals in an exhibition game.

Nivar will likely start the season with Triple-A Ottawa.

In a separate deal, the Orioles sent minor league catcher Keith McDonald to the Rangers for future considerations.
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