Catcher Mike Heath, who had one season remaining on a guaranteed $2 million, two-year contract, was placed on unconditional release waivers yesterday by the Atlanta Braves.
Heath, who played in only 49 games last season before surgery on his right elbow, hit .209 in 1991 with one homer and 12 RBI. He will get $1 million from the Braves: his $900,000 salary for 1992 and $100,000 as a buyout of Atlanta's $1.1 million option for 1993.
"Thirteen years; my first release. I can't be too unhappy about that," said Heath, who had only two at-bats this spring. "My only concern is that if they were trying to trade me, why not play me? I'm optimistic. I don't think it's the end. If it is, it's been a great 13 years."
Among the 30 players left in camp are Otis Nixon, who has 18 days remaining on his suspension for cocaine use, and Nick Esasky, who has not played in nearly two years because of vertigo.
Esasky is expected to be sent to the minors for rehabilitation.
* DODGERS: The club is bringing pitcher Kip Gross and infielders Eric Karros and Dave Anderson to Los Angeles for the Freeway Series with the Angels, in case they need to put them on the Opening Day roster.
Gross would make the team if Jay Howell, who hopes to pitch tomorrow and Sunday, is not ready. Howell has a sore shoulder. Anderson would make it if Mike Sharperson is not recovered from a hamstring strain. Karros, hitting .388, would make it if Todd Benzinger has not recovered from a sore calf.
* GIANTS: Outfielder Kevin Bass, batting .367, missed his fourth straight game with a slight hamstring strain.
If he cannot play this weekend, manager Roger Craig said, Mike Felder, batting .359, would start in left field Opening Day.
* METS: Since dropping from the No. 3 spot into cleanup, Howard Johnson is 18-for-55 (.320). He has four home runs this week.
* CARDINALS: Jose DeLeon, who will start the opener, has pitched 16 consecutive scoreless innings and has an ERA of 0.62.