PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Righthander 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.
* BRADY'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 a pitch from Rangers reliever Todd Burns over the 340-foot sign down the rightfield 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.
* BOOM, BOOM: Righthander Mike Mussina gave up two home runs and three runs on six hits overall in a six-inning performance.
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 in 26 innings.
* PRAISE FROM MASTER: 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 MORNING: Righthander 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.
The 1992 salaries for the nine Orioles making $1 million or more. Figures were obtained by The Associated Press from management and player sources and include salaries and pro-rated shares of signing bonuses.
Glenn Davis .. .. $2,865,000
Storm Davis .. .. .2,466,667
Cal Ripken .. .. ..2,366,667
Bob Milacki .. .. .1,180,000
Gregg Olson .. .. .1,450,000
Joe Orsulak ... .. 1,300,000
Rick Sutcliffe .. .1,200,000
Randy Milligan .. .1,050,000
Mike Devereaux .. .1,000,000