Rob Dibble, the Cincinnati Reds reliever who finished second in the National League with 31 saves last season, will undergo tests today that could disclose a seriously damaged right shoulder.
Sources said that during an examination by Dr. Frank Jobe at Vero Beach, Fla., yesterday, Dibble's shoulder joint was determined to have the same "looseness" felt by Orel Hershiser before he underwent reconstructive surgery in 1990.
Jobe, who would not disclose details of the exam, sent Dibble back to training camp and ordered him to undergo a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test. This is the same procedure that disclosed Hershiser's damage.
Sources say the problem is not in the rotator cuff, though Jobe would not comment on that report.
Meanwhile, Joe Oliver, who hit his second grand slam of spring training yesterday, will be the starting catcher this season.
Oliver hit only .216 last year, when he was bothered by shoulder problems. He underwent arthroscopic surgery Oct. 9 to remove a cartilage tear in his right shoulder.
* PIRATES: Bill Landrum said yesterday that the Major League Baseball Players Association believes his potential grievance against Pittsburgh could be a landmark case to block teams from releasing players for financial reasons.
"If I win -- and a player's never won this kind of case -- it will stop this right now," Landrum said. "If I lose, this will increase tenfold."
After trying unsuccessfully for several weeks to trade Landrum and his $1.7 million contract, the Pirates released him Thursday, even though he led the team in saves for the past three seasons.
Landrum, 33, who will clear waivers today if unclaimed, intends to base his grievance on paragraph 7 (b) of the uniform player's contract, which states a player can be released only for improper conduct, lack of skill or breach of contract.
Pirates president Mark Sauer said finances figured into Landrum's release and John Smiley's trade to the Twins, but said the club is also trying to rebuild its trade-depleted farm system.
* BRAVES: Outfielder Tommy Gregg will be sidelined for three months with a broken hand.
Gregg was hit by a pitch from the Yankees' Wade Taylor on Friday night. In Atlanta on Saturday, X-rays showed the pitch broke a bone on top of his right hand, behind his middle finger. Last April, Gregg broke a bone in his left hand and was out for six weeks. In 1989, he missed 37 games when he broke a bone in his right foot.
* PHILLIES: Philadelphia resisted temptation and sent its top 1991 draft pick to the minor-league complex for reassignment. General manager Lee Thomas said the club was leaning toward assigning Tyler Green, 25, a right-hander, to Double-A Reading, but he also could end up at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
G; Green is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 12 innings this spring.