For the past five months, Mike Flanagan faithfully has reported three times a week to Children's Hospital for physical therapy on his 38-year-old pitching shoulder.
Until recently, Flanagan said he wasn't sure whether he'd be interested in resuming his major-league career when the rehabilitation was completed.
Now, he is.
Yesterday, Flanagan, who pitched parts of 13 years for the Baltimore Orioles, and parts of four for the Toronto Blue Jays before being released May 8, said he has asked his agent, Bob Teaff, to "put out some feelers to clubs" to determine whether one might be interested in signing him to a contract for next season.
But Flanagan, who lives in Timonium with his wife, Kathy, and their two children, said he wouldn't be willing to end his informal retirement for any offer. "It would have to be a case of the right place, the right situation, the right location," said the left-hander, who ranks fourth on the Orioles all-time win list and has a total of 165 big-league victories. "It's not something that I'm just going to jump at."
He wouldn't necessarily have to be in a starting rotation, Flanagan said.
"I guess I'd like to be a starter," he said. "But if I went to spring training knowing that a specific role was required, I could train my arm that way."
Boston Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman and Orioles GM Roland Hemond indicated yesterday that they'd be interested at least in hearing from Flanagan.
Gorman said the Red Sox had issued an "open invitation" to Flanagan to come to spring training with the team.
Referring to Flanagan, who'll turn 39 Sunday, Hemond said: "I wouldn't mind hearing from his representative. That would be fine. Maybe I should call him. We all have a fondness for Mike."
Flanagan earned $1.04 million last year from the Blue Jays. He possibly would have to go to spring training without the security of a guaranteed contract if he hooked on with another major-league team.
The commuting advantages alone would seem to make the Orioles reasonably attractive to Flanagan, but he declined to speak about any of the teams he'd be interested in.
"I think that's getting a little ahead of ourselves," he said. "Let's just see what interest there is and go from there."
Flanagan said Teaff, began contacting teams this week, but that it was too soon to say which, if any, might be interested in talking further. Interested general managers are sure to ask questions about whether Flanagan still is fit to pitch. When the Blue Jays released him last season, Flanagan had a 2-2 record, but in his last three starts he lost twice and pitched poorly.
Orioles team orthopedist Charles Silberstein, who has overseen
the veteran pitcher's rehabilitation, said that Flanagan has made progress, although he never will recover fully from a serious shoulder injury diagnosed after the 1979 season.
Asked how much of his arm strength Flanagan had regained, Silberstein added, "He's very close to what he was in the mid-'80s."