The agent for Orioles free-agent catcher Mickey Tettleton wa unavailable to comment yesterday on the three-year, $6.75 million contract signed by Philadelphia catcher Darren Daulton.
No doubt Tony Attanasio would have had some interestinthings to say about the value of his client as compared to Daulton, a .206 lifetime hitter before last season.
Orioles president Larry Lucchino could barely restrain his angeover the Daulton signing, which almost certainly will have an impact on the club's negotiations with Tettleton.
"Each club has got to make its roster decisions as it sees fit," tight-lipped Lucchino said. "I prefer not to express my reaction to that signing in public."
One Orioles source said the club had made progress in renewecontract talks with Attanasio this week, but acknowledged "this could screw things up."
In truth, the Orioles should not have been shocked by the size othe deal, for Daulton rejected a three-year, $6.6 million offer from the Phillies at the end of the season.
But Tettleton is arguably a more valuable player -- he has hit 5home runs the past three years, Daulton 21. Thus, Attanasio is expected to use Daulton's contract as a reference point in future negotiations.
"I don't know if it helps me," Tettleton said last night from hihome in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I'm sure it does. I'm sure it helps a lot of players. But you have to look at individual cases and go by that."
Daulton, 28, will receive a $500,000 signing bonus, $1.75 millioin 1991 and $2.25 million in both '92 and '93. His contract exceeds the three-year, $6.2 million deal Orioles shortstop Cal .. Ripken signed in 1988.
All this for a player whose career was utterly nondescript untithe second half of last season, when he batted .297 with nine of his 12 homers and 39 of his 57 RBIs. His final average was .268.
Tettleton, 30, batted only .223. Yet, he still produced three morhomers than Daulton and only six fewer RBIs. His 160 strikeouts -- a record for a switch-hitter -- were partly offset by his 106 walks.
The latter statistic enabled him to post a better on-baspercentage than Daulton (.376-.367). Neither player is a future Hall of Famer. Daulton bats left and is solid defensively, but no one confuses him with Johnny Bench.
"You'd like to say you're convinced," Philadelphia generamanager Lee Thomas said. "I think any club who signed him would have had some reservations. But he became a horse the second half of the season."
"You have to keep your own, and that's what we did," Thomasaid. "You've seen agents parading their clients down hallways at the winter meetings. I could just see that happening."
So, obviously can Lucchino.
Above all, the Daulton signing could make it extremely difficulfor the Orioles to sign Tettleton for one year, their intention as of last week, according to Attanasio.
It is not known whether the club made Tettleton a multi-year offeor merely improved its one-year proposal in recent days. Lucchino does not comment on contract talks. Tettleton said he has not spoken with Attanasio.
Meanwhile, the Orioles stand to lose their exclusive negotiatinrights to Tettleton on Monday. Attanasio said last week that five teams already have expressed interest, but he is not permitted to discuss terms until the end of the free-agent filing period Sunday.
After Daulton rejected his initial offer, Attanasio was asked iTettleton was worth three years at $6.6 million. "Some people don't think so," he said. "Namely the Orioles."
That was then.
This is now.