Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bob Milacki scored his first victory of the year yesterday when an arbitrator awarded him a $1.18 million salary for the 1992 season.
Milacki, the first player to take the Orioles to a hearing since infielder Billy Smith lost an arbitration case in 1980, became the fourth-highest-paid pitcher on the Orioles' staff when
arbitrator Anthony Sinicropi chose his salary request over the $700,000 figure submitted by the club.
Agents Alan and Randy Hendricks represented Milacki in the three-hour hearing Thursday in Chicago. Club counsel Lon Babby, general manager Roland Hemond and assistant GM Frank Robinson represented the Orioles.
Milacki sat in on the hearing, then rushed back to his home in Lake Havasu, Ariz., to make last-minute preparations for a car trip to Baltimore. He called the arbitration process "an experience."
"When I came out of the hearing, I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I had no idea what the outcome would be. But everything was done in a professional manner and I'm obviously very happy with the way it turned out."
The process has been known to breed some bad feelings, but Milacki met with Hemond before and after the hearing, the two sides going out of their way to keep the salary dispute from becoming rancorous.
"Roland came up to me afterward and said, 'Hopefully, there are no hard feelings.' I said, 'No, there aren't, and I hope that works both ways.' He told me going in that it was just business and statistics, and not to take it personally.
"I was nervous going in, but I think it was a good experience. I think a player should go through it at least once in his career. You learn a lot about the game."
It could not have been an easy decision for Sinicropi. Milacki, who earned $280,000 last year, asked for a 400 percent raise after a 1992 season in which he was 10-9 with a 4.01 ERA. But he was the most dependable pitcher in the Orioles rotation, working through the sixth inning in 15 of 16 starts during one 2 1/2 -month stretch.
On the Orioles staff, he now only trails Storm Davis ($1.9 million), Gregg Olson ($1.85 million) and Rick Sutcliffe ($1.2 million) in base salary.
The Orioles can't be thrilled with the decision, but they knew going in that the arbitration process is unpredictable. Perhaps that is why they had settled every other case since 1980 before the hearing date.
"That's the process," Hemond said. "You go to the hearing and you live with the decision."
The Orioles' arbitration team is scheduled to return to Chicago for a pair of hearings on Tuesday. Barring late settlements, first baseman Randy Milligan and center fielder Mike Devereaux will take their cases to arbitration on the same day.
Milligan is seeking $1.4 million for the 1992 season. The club filed a $900,000 salary figure. Devereaux filed for $1.075 million. The club submitted an $875,000 figure.
Milacki doesn't have to worry about any of that anymore.
"The minute the arbitrator said the hearing was over, I said, 'Good, the hard stuff is over, now let's go out and play the game,' " Milacki said.
* The Orioles have donated $23,000 to purchase medical equipment for the University of Maryland Pediatric AIDS Program. Robinson presented the check yesterday.
O's and arbitration
Player .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Salary
x-Bob Milacki .. .. .. .. .. .. .. $1.18 mil.
Brady Anderson .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .$345,000
Sam Horn .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .$687,500
Bill Ripken .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .$685,000
Player .. .. .Offered .. .. .. .. .. .. Asked
R. Milligan .$900,000 .. .. .. .. ..$1.4 mil.
M. Devereaux $875,000 .. .. .. .. $1.075 mil.
x -- Milacki won his arbitration case; Anderson, Horn and Ripken settled before their cases went to arbitration.