The Orioles cleared three spots on their 40-man roster today by outrighting Jeff Ballard to Rochester and requesting waivers on Jeff McKnight and Paul Kilgus.
It is expected that Ballard, a three-year major league veteran, will decline his assignment and exercise his option to become a free agent. The left-hander, who was the Orioles' top winner with an 18-8 record in 1989, was 6-12 with a 5.60 earned run average this past season. He was 3-3 with a 4.41 ERA during a five-week period with Rochester.
Kilgus, a lefthanded reliever, spent most of last season with the Orioles, compiling an 0-2 record with a 5.28 ERA. He was 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA at Rochester.
McKnight, who hit .383 in 22 games for Rochester before being promoted, spent most of the year on the Orioles' disabled list. The switch-hitting infielder- outfielder appeared in only 16 games, hitting .171.
If McKnight and Kilgus clear waivers as expected, they will be released, making them free agents. Ballard can accept his assignment to Rochester and be eligible for the (Rule V) minor-league draft, which would make him available to any team for $50,000.
By refusing, however, Ballard could immediately begin negotiations as a free agent with any team that shows interest.
The first moves of the off-season are designed to clear space on the roster for promising minor leaguers who have to be protected from the Rule V draft. They also provide room for general manager Roland Hemond in the event of multi-player trades or free agent acquisitions.
The Orioles currently have 36 players under control at the major league level, and more moves are expected before rosters are frozen next month.
Joe Angel, who helped Jon Miller broadcast Oriole games on radio for three years before going to the New York Yankees last season, may be coming back to Baltimore. WBAL officials told The Sun they were close to closing a deal with Angel.