Catcher Joe Oliver and pitcher Jack Armstrong walked out of the Cincinnati Reds spring training camp in Plant City, Fla., yesterday to protest their renewed contracts.
"I want the right thing to be done," Armstrong said. "I don't want to start playing for the money. It's the principle. I feel that's a burden I have to bear for the players who will follow me."
The Reds automatically renewed the contracts of Oliver, Armstrong, pitcher Tim Layana and first baseman Hal Morris on Monday after they failed to reach agreements. The Reds said they renewed the contracts to get those matters resolved before the exhibition schedule starts Friday.
Scott Boras, the agent for Armstrong and Oliver, said they would not return on today, the mandatory reporting date under the collective-bargaining agreement.
"The players have reflected to me that they are staying tomorrow as well," he said from his office in California. "Their statements to me is that they are waiting for the Reds to properly negotiate."
Armstrong and Oliver don't have enough major-league service to be eligible for salary arbitration, so the Reds were able to impose automatically contracts at numbers of their choosing.
Armstrong, 25, was given a $215,000 salary for 1991, about $100,000 short of what Boras was seeking. Oliver got $185,000, even though he believes his market worth is $275,000 to $280,000, Boras said.
"I'm not happy with the treatment I've gotten," Oliver said. "I just wanted to make a statement."
Armstrong said he had not discussed his walkout with Oliver and that the two were protesting independently.
* RANGERS: Pitchers Kevin Brown and Kenny Rogers, displeased with contracts and raises given them by the Texas Rangers, failed to show for the team's morning workout.
"Do I look at this as the end of the world? No," said general manager Tom Grieve. "If this is the worst thing that happens this spring we'll have a pretty good camp. We would like for them to be here and hope we can resolve the issue and get them back to playing."
Brown had his contract renewed for $327,500, a 50.2 percent raise. Rogers was renewed at $287,500, a 105.4 percent raise.
"I don't want anything personal; I don't want this to be anything ugly," Brown said.