Hetzel is waived 2 days before shoulder surgery

Orioles notes

April 01, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Right-hander Eric Hetzel got some more bad news yesterday. The Orioles waived him for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release two days before he was to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured shoulder.

The timing of the release was a reflection of the club's opinion that the Hetzel was injured when he signed a major-league contract in November. General manager Roland Hemond said the club would be liable for 45 days' severance pay, but it seems likely that Hetzel will file a grievance in an attempt to claim the rest of his 1992 salary.

If he was injured while playing for the Orioles, he would be entitled to a full year's pay, but the circumstances of his shoulder problem and his history of shoulder soreness have led the club to believe that the contract was not signed in good faith.

"We feel it is a pre-existing injury," Hemond said. "We felt that we weren't provided with all the information regarding his physical condition at the time of the signing."

Hetzel had little to say about the situation when he left camp Monday.

"No comment," he said. "It's just a big mess."

Hetzel first complained of shoulder soreness soon after he reported to camp in Sarasota. He made only one exhibition appearance for the Orioles, giving up a grand slam in the club's second game of the Grapefruit League season. He also threw three scoreless innings in a "B" game the day his wife gave birth to twins, then returned to Louisiana to be with his family.

It was then that he contacted the club and said his arm was sore and that he was going to have it examined by Birmingham, Ala., orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews. He will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair damage to his rotator cuff and probably will not pitch again this year.

If Hetzel files a grievance, the club may have a difficult time convincing an arbitrator that it was duped. Hetzel has a long history of arm injuries and ended the 1991 season on the disabled list.

Anderson's big night

Leadoff candidate Brady Anderson broke a 3-3 tie with his first home run of the spring last night, as the Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers, 4-3, at Charlotte County Stadium.

Anderson took Rangers reliever Todd Burns over the 340 sign down the right-field line to lead off the ninth inning. He had two other hits and stole two bases, increasing his spring total to eight in nine attempts, second in the American League.

Mussina gives up two homers

Right-hander Mike Mussina gave up three runs on six hits in a six-inning performance, surrendering a bases-empty home run to Dean Palmer in the second inning and a two-run shot to Ruben Sierra in the sixth.

It was Mussina's final appearance of the Grapefruit League season, though he will return to Florida to pitch in a minor-league game Sunday. He finished the exhibition season with a 1-0 record and a 1.73 ERA. He struck out 22 and walked three over 26 innings.

Ryan praises Mesa

Future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan couldn't have been surprised that Jose Mesa won a place in the Orioles rotation this spring. Ryan out-dueled Mesa, 1-0, early last year and was impressed with his opponent.

"That guy had some of the best stuff I saw all year," Ryan told a reporter from the Dallas Morning News recently.

McDonald in the morning

Right-hander Ben McDonald pitched five innings in a minor-league camp game to make up the innings he missed when Monday night's exhibition game against the Minnesota Twins was rained out.

McDonald pitched only five innings because manager John Oates wants to keep him on schedule for Saturday's exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox at RFK Stadium in Washington.

"He threw 62 pitches, and he overmatched them for four innings," Oates said. "He gave up a three-run homer to Jack Voigt in the fifth, but he was fine."

Oates said he intends to keep the starting rotation on the same schedule regardless of any intervening variables. If there is more inclement weather, the pitchers will throw indoors at the new stadium.

Blue Jays pitchers announced

The Toronto Blue Jays have announced their pitching plans for their home-opening series against the Orioles. Left-hander Jimmy Key will start the SkyDome opener April 10. He'll be followed by Jack Morris in the second game and 15-game winner David Wells in the series finale.

Robinson in Rangers rotation

Right-hander Jeff Robinson, who left the Orioles on unhappy terms after a tumultuous 1991 season, will start the season in the Rangers rotation. Robinson is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in seven Grapefruit League appearances.

Robinson apparently cemented the solid impression he has made on Rangers manager Bobby Valentine recently when he brushed back Red Sox hitters Mike Greenwell and Mo Vaughn in retaliation for a couple of inside pitches by Danny Darwin.

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