Kirk Gibson, who left Kansas City Royals camp last week because he didn't want to be a backup, found a new team but another unsettled situation yesterday, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Neal Heaton.
Gibson, 34, went from a club that had too many outfielders to one that is not sure how many it has. The Pirates sent Andy Van Slyke home Monday because of his bad back, and also is listening to trade talk regarding Barry Bonds.
Gibson, the 1988 National League Most Valuable Player, returns to the NL after one year with the Royals. He batted .236 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI, tailing off as the season wore on.
Heaton, 31, was an All-Star with the Pirates two seasons ago. He lost his starting job last year and went 3-3 with a 4.33 ERA.
Last week, Gibson left camp after being told he would not start. The Royals acquired outfielders Kevin McReynolds, Keith Miller and Chris Gwynn in the off-season.
"I have mixed emotions," Gibson said of the trade. "It's really too soon to speak."
The Chicago White Sox, needing a designated hitter now that Bo Jackson will not be able to play, talked to Kansas City last week about Gibson. But he preferred to play in Pittsburgh for manager Jim Leyland, who was Gibson's first manager in the minors.
"What he's got left, I don't know," Leyland said. "The reports are that he's running real good. But I don't want to go out on a limb and say how he'll be used."
Most of what happens will depend on Van Slyke. Club orthopedist Dr. Jack Failla yesterday said the center fielder will be able to play with the back condition, though Failla advised the club that Van Slyke, 30, will need an occasional day off.
Yesterday, Van Slyke underwent a series of tests on his sore back, which showed three degenerative disks in his lower back but no ruptured disks. The team said Van Slyke will not need back surgery.
He has been experiencing back pain throughout spring training and has missed the past three exhibition games. He is expected back in the Pirates' camp tomorrow.
"In my judgment, it became essential that we get Gibson here immediately because of Andy," Pirates general manager Ted Simmons said. "Getting Gibson makes us a little more comfortable in case Andy's injury is more serious than we hope."
* INDIANS: Breaking with the club's recent policy, Cleveland agreed to multiyear deals with nine players, including catcher Sandy Alomar and second baseman Carlos Baerga.
Alomar will receive $4 million guaranteed and Baerga will get $3.9 million. The Indians have options on both players for 1995.
"People are always saying that it seems like we just develop players for other teams," Indians president Rick Bay said. "This sends a message to our fans that they now have a core group of players they can identify with and watch grow over the next few years."
Pitcher Charles Nagy and outfielder Mark Whiten also agreed to three-year deals with options. Pitchers Steve Olin, Dave Otto, Dennis Cook and Scott Scudder and outfielder Glenallen Hill agreed to two-year contracts with club options for 1994. And pitcher Rod Nichols agreed to a one-year contract with a club option for 1993.
By agreeing to long-term deals, many of the players gave up the right to go to salary arbitration. Alomar will get $500,000 this season, $1.3 million in 1993 and $2.2 million in 1994. The Indians' option is for $3.3 million.
* YANKEES: Allan Anderson, a candidate for one of two openings in the starting rotation, was scratched from a scheduled start Saturday because of what the team called a slight shoulder strain. Anderson was forced to leave after one scoreless inning of Monday's exhibition against Atlanta. He was slated to pitch two innings in that game.
* ATHLETICS: Dave Stewart has placed his recovery in the hands of those around him, something very difficult for this proud man who won 20 games four consecutive seasons after planning his own spring training routines.
Ordinarily, Oakland's top right-hander arrives at spring training after a month of pitching workouts. This spring, the one after he struggled to an 11-11 record and a 5.18 ERA, Stewart missed his head start because of off-season knee surgery.
"It's different. It's real different," Stewart said. "Everything I do know now is in somebody else's hands, but they're experts and they're professional. You've just got to trust them, kind of like throwing that slow forkball up there. You've got to believe it's going to break before the batter swings through it."
In his first spring start, Saturday, several batters swung through that forkball, but Stewart tired in the last of three innings and wound up giving up four runs and five hits.
He remained optimistic.
"I thought I threw the ball real well," Stewart said. "I had good velocity. I had good location for the better part."
* TWINS: First baseman Kent Hrbek has yet to play in the field, and manager Tom Kelly said he is in no hurry to insert him. Hrbek is rehabilitating a shoulder injury. Mike Pagliarulo will fly to Minneapolis today for further testing on his perforated eardrum. The club has not decided whether the third baseman will need surgery. Pagliarulo, who was hit in the ear during batting practice last week, has not played in a spring game but has been cleared to play.
Second baseman Chuck Knoblauch continued to sit out while he waits for a strained rib muscle to heal. He has not played since hurting himself Friday against Edison Community College.
* RED SOX: Jack Clark reported his ailing right hip and right elbow were feeling better. X-rays on the elbow were negative. Clark missed his third straight game yesterday, but he ran briefly in the outfield during the game. Wade Boggs sat out his third game with a minor groin strain.