The Orioles' quest to acquire outfielder Mike Greenwell from the Boston Red Sox took an apparent turn for the worse yesterday at the general managers' meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.
One source said trade talks broke down when Boston general manager Lou Gorman announced Greenwell no longer was available. A second source said a potential trade was simply, "no go."
The Orioles remain intent on acquiring a power-hitting outfielder, but they are now likely to focus their attention elsewhere rather than endure another tease from the unpredictable Gorman.
The first time they tried to acquire Greenwell was for outfielder Phil Bradley in July. Greenwell, 27, had only two homers and 26 RBIs at the All-Star break, and Gorman reportedly was trying to move him.
He didn't. Bradley later was traded to the Chicago White Sox for first baseman/designated hitter Ron Kittle. Greenwell recovered to finish with a .297 batting average, 14 homers and 73 RBIs.
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond refused comment on the Greenwell talks last night, but one of the sources said, "They didn't trade him when he was struggling. They're not going to trade him now."
Indeed, Orioles officials doubted Greenwell was actually available, especially with the Red Sox growing pessimistic over their chances of re-signing free-agent outfielder Tom Brunansky.
Gorman, however, is desperate for pitching, for 17-game winner Mike Boddicker also is a free agent. The Orioles probably tried to land Greenwell for a package of players, including a starting pitcher.
Their next step might be a more serious look at the free-agent market, where the club already has expressed preliminary interest in at least six power-hitting outfielders, including Brunansky.
Officials also inquired about the possibility of trading for Philadelphia outfielder Von Hayes at the World Series, but the Phillies reportedly want a 15- to 18-game winner in return.
The Orioles can't satisfy that need short of trading Ben McDonald, which they won't do. They did not have a 15-game winner last season. McDonald was 8-5 after July 21.
Besides, the club apparently prefers Greenwell to Hayes, who has driven in more than 85 runs only once in his nine-year career. Greenwell exceeded that total in each of the three seasons before 1990.
* OH, BROTHER: When asked about the possibility of signing with the Orioles in September, Toronto outfielder George Bell smiled, shook his head and dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand.
The notion still seems far-fetched, but Bell's agent, Alan Hendricks, said yesterday that Hemond expressed preliminary interest in the free agent last week.
Relax. Bell, 31, is low on the club's priority list for a number of reasons -- the millions he would command, the problems he could present if used as a DH and the presence of his younger brother Juan.
Juan, the Orioles' Triple A shortstop, engaged in a wild dugout brawl with teammate Donell Nixon the day Rochester clinched its division title last season. Just imagine George howling for his brother to be promoted.
Ripkens, Bells, why not the Smothers Brothers?
The truth is, the Orioles would rather sign a less heralded free agent -- someone like Houston's Franklin Stubbs, who batted LTC .261 with 23 homers and 71 RBIs playing half his games in the Astrodome.
Yet, Hendricks said, "I would say there's some mutual interest between George and the Orioles. There's the Baltimore ballclub, the stadium and the nice little aside with his brother on the team.
"The Orioles have always been very high on our list. I get the feeling they have some interest. Whether it's big interest, small interest, only as a DH, one year, five years, who knows?"
* FORCED BUSING: The Orioles might be exhausted by the time the season starts next year. They'll play exhibition games everywhere but Arizona while awaiting the construction of a permanent spring training home.
The club will again train at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota on the west coast of Florida, but that facility lacks a stadium. Thus, there will be only two "home" games in the schedule announced yesterday, and even those will require bus rides.
All this is highly unusual, but the Orioles vacated Miami after 32 years without settling on another place to play. They are expected to finally decide on a new site in Florida before next year.
Right now, even the Everglades look good.
If nothing else, the updated version of Bingo Long's Traveling All-Stars will be the answer to a great spring training trivia question:
Which team played back-to-back home games in different road parks?
On March 11 the Orioles face Boston at Bradenton, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On March 12 their opponent is Texas at Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium, home of the Chicago White Sox.
Three overnight trips will be necessary.
"We'll have to do some things a little different," manager Frank Robinson said from his Los Angeles home. "We may have to come out an hour early, work on the field and get on the bus. You don't have that time you would before home games.
"It's going to be a little tough. But you can't go worrying about it, complaining about it. It's there. We'll have to concentrate on getting ourselves ready."