Royals' Gibson no-show, asks trade

BASEBALL NOTES

March 01, 1992

Kirk Gibson wants out of Kansas City and failed to show up at the Royals spring training camp yesterday in Haines City, Fla.

The outfielder, told Friday he'll play a backup role this season, wants to be traded. It was not known when he planned to return to camp.

"I'm not here to be a caddie. I'm not here for an insurance policy," Gibson said Friday. "They said they don't want me, they have no plans for me, so get me out of here."

Gibson's spot in left field will be taken by Keith Miller, obtained by the Royals from the New York Mets in December along with Gregg Jefferies and Kevin McReynolds for Bret Saberhagen.

"It's not really fair," said Gibson, 34. "They say happy cows give more milk, but they've basically told me I'm dog meat. They've predetermined I'm washed up, that I can't have an impact. Physically, I'm here but, mentally, I say, 'What am I doing here?' "

Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, players are not required to report until Wednesday. No penalty can be taken against Gibson if he returns by then.

Gibson signed with Kansas City after the 1990 season for $3.65 million over two years. He hit .236 last year with 16 home runs and 55 RBI in 462 at-bats.

"Basically, they told me that the best I could hope for was to be a backup player," Gibson said after meeting with general manager Herk Robinson and manager Hal McRae.

"They asked me to accept that. I told them I couldn't."

Kansas City already has George Brett at designated hitter. McReynolds and Brian McRae will start in the outfield along with Miller. That leaves Gibson competing for backup time with Jim Eisenreich, Chris Gwynn and Gary Thurman.

* CUBS: The team made Ryne Sandberg a new contract offer in a push to sign the celebrated second baseman before talks break off tonight.

General manager Larry Himes said the Cubs responded to a proposal they received Friday from Sandberg's agent, Jim Turner, and expected to hear back from Turner before tonight.

Sandberg has said he will refuse to negotiate past tonight unless a deal is reached. He says he doesn't want to be distracted once he begins training in earnest and he considers March 1 the start of his season.

If the talks should end without a new contract, this could be Sandberg's last year as a Cub. He is signed through 1992 but has said he would become a free agent at the end of the season unless he gets a multiyear contract now.

Both sides were cautious in their public statements, but there were hints that an agreement might be near.

Sandberg spent four hours on the practice field yesterday and hadn't yet gotten details of the latest offer from Turner when reporters spoke with him. But he said he was encouraged that the Cubs had submitted a new offer.

"I think they're working at it. Both sides are working at it seriously at this point," he said. "Hopefully, they will continue talking and continue working on it."

* RED SOX: The club rolled out the red carpet for Roger Clemens, even though the three-time Cy Young Award winner still wasn't at spring training.

Players arrived at the clubhouse to see a 2-foot strip of red cloth running to Clemens' stall. There also was a red curtain draped over the front of his booth, with a sign: "Remember the golden VTC rule. Whoever has the gold makes the rules."

Clemens, in the first year of a four-year contract worth $21,521,000, said he preferred to work out at home until Wednesday, the mandatory reporting date under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

The red-cloth treatment was the idea of Mike Greenwell. Manager Butch Hobson said the left fielder wanted "to keep everything light in here."

"I told him to go for it," Hobson said. "You gotta have some fun."

Meanwhile, infielder Jody Reed reported and was still angry about salary arbitration. Reed, who had asked for $2.25 million, was awarded the team's arbitration figure of $1.6 million after rejecting Boston's $1.95 million settlement offer.

* PIRATES: Orlando Merced, who led National League rookies in runs last year, isn't content with the club's salary offer this season.

The Pirates are offering between $150,000 and $160,000, and Merced is seeking more than $250,000. In 1991, he made the major-league minimum of $100,000.

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