Signing with the Orioles was more a matter of joining a club on the way up than returning to the comfort level of playing in the division I've spent most of my career.

Ultimately, I just felt that the Orioles were going in the right direction. There's a lot of good, young talent here and we have a lot of positives. Losing pitcher Adam Loewen this year to injury was tough, but we have other good, young arms like Erik Bedard and Daniel Cabrera. We also have nicely balanced offense and talented, young position players.

When I was with Tampa, I always seemed to hit well against the Orioles -- and at Camden Yards in particular. That was as a visitor, though. The weather early in the season wasn't ideal, but it's starting to heat up now, so maybe that will help.

My role here is pretty well defined, too. I've played a couple games at third base but, for the most part, I'm splitting time between first base and DH.

Being a free agent for the first time was a little strange. When you grow up as a kid and hope to reach the big leagues, free agency isn't something you really think about because you have to put in a lot of time here to get to there. I take a one-day-at-a-time approach and I felt fortunate enough to get six years in. Hopefully, I get another six.

But right now, the Orioles are a good team and Baltimore is a good place for me. It's a nice fit.

Hard-hitting veteran Aubrey Huff signed a three-year deal with Baltimore this past winter as a free agent. Huff had played for the Devil Rays from 2000 until July 2006 when he was traded to Houston for the remainder of the season. A native of Marion, Ohio, the left-handed hitting Huff is batting .257 with four homers and 26 RBIs for his new club.