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02/06/12 2:29 PM EST

Orioles have had discussions with Ramirez

Duquette describes talks with slugger's agent as 'exploratory'

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have had "exploratory talks" with free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez's agent, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said on Monday.

Duquette -- fresh off a morning trade with the Rockies that netted pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom in exchange for veteran starter Jeremy Guthrie -- confirmed the Orioles' long-rumored interest in Ramirez and said that the team had watched him work out.

"We are still considering the composition of this club, and some of the challenges of integrating a player like Manny into our ballclub and market," said Duquette, who as general manager of the Red Sox signed Ramirez to an eight-year, $160 million contract in December 2000.

Ramirez, who retired last April rather than serve a 100-game suspension for a second violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy, will face a 50-game ban should he sign a contract. While he would come at a cheaper cost than other designated-hitter types on the market, such as Johnny Damon, Ramirez also comes with significant concerns. In addition to the suspension, Ramirez typically attracts a media circus, and it's unclear how his behavior, which spawned the phrase "Manny being Manny," would play out under manager Buck Showalter's watch.

Ramirez, who has 555 career home runs and is a 12-time All-Star, is said to have drawn interest from at least two other clubs, Toronto and Oakland, and he would almost certainly have to sign a Minor League deal given his suspension. The Orioles, who are seeking to upgrade their bullpen before Spring Training, remain interested in adding a veteran bat -- like that of Ramirez -- as well.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.