Doughty says negotiations with Bonilla to be after season

August 11, 1991

Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Larry Doughty said yesterday it's unlikely negotiations with potential free-agent outfielder Bobby Bonilla will resume before the end of the season.

"All offers are off the table," said Doughty, who took part in two negotiating sessions with agent Dennis Gilbert before former Pirates president Carl Barger stepped down on Aug. 2.

Bonilla turned down a four-year, $16 million offer in April, then, after talks ceased for several months, recently rejected several slightly sweetened offers worth about $4.2 million annually over three or four years.

"The best thing for us and Bobby is to have no negotiations right now," Doughty said. "It seems to [negatively] influence his play."

Bonilla increasingly has dropped hints he'd like to return to his native New York to play and seems intent on testing the free-agent market this winter. He even told the New York media last week that, "I could play here for five years, and nothing you wrote would bother me."

Some Pirates executives say Bonilla is so determined to test his worth on the open market that he'd turn down even a blockbuster, last-minute offer from Pittsburgh.

There were published reports last week in New York that the Yankees are prepared to make a spectacular bid for the four-time NL All-Star. It would be a violation of baseball's anti-tampering rules for the Yankees to hold even preliminary talks with Gilbert before the season ends.

Meanwhile, The Pirates are interested in signing infielder Tommy Herr, formerly of the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, but not until they can clear a roster spot for him.

* YANKEES: Don Mattingly missed yesterday's doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers because of a bad back, and the club

announced that the first baseman would be examined today.

Mattingly left Friday night's game, which later was postponed, because of the problem. The Yankees will determine after today's examination whether Mattingly will be placed on the disabled list.

As a precautionary measure, the Yankees are flying in Torey Lovullo from Class AAA Columbus in the event that Mattingly is not available to play today.

* METS: Though the club has lost 14 of its past 18, general manager Frank Cashen said manager Bud Harrelson isn't in danger of losing his job.

"I don't have a change of managers in my plans right now," Cashen said.

"I don't deny that it might be a practical consideration. But if I thought there was any possibility that we could turn it around, I'd certainly consider it."

Changing managers, though, is in Cashen's recent track record, and the Mets, in the wake of Davey Johnson's dismissal last season, went on to play a month of inspired baseball for Harrelson.

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