Decision due by Williamson on offer to stay with Orioles

January 12, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Mark Williamson probably will decide within the next few days whether to accept an offer from the Orioles to play next season.

The reliever is one of five players who became free agents when they weren't tendered contracts by the Orioles before the Dec. 18 deadline. They automatically became free agents, although infielder Mark McLemore since has signed a minor-league contract and received an invitation to spring training as a non-roster player.

Williamson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow May 12, appeared in only 12 games last year. He said yesterday that he and the Orioles were "close" to an agreement, but that the California Angels also had expressed interest.

Ted Updike, who represents Williamson, was in the Los Angeles area yesterday and unavailable for comment.

In the three seasons before last year, Williamson appeared in 179 games for the Orioles. He compiled a 23-12 record and 14 saves in that period, primarily as a setup man for closer Gregg Olson.

Williamson made $900,000 last year and would have been eligible for arbitration had the Orioles offered him a contract. His salary for next year figures to be about half of that.

Although he pitched only 18 2/3 innings last season, Williamson's performance in the last month indicated he made a successful recovery from surgery. He posted a 1.15 ERA in 15 2/3 innings in 10 games after returning from the disabled list Sept. 4.

Meanwhile, Ben McDonald became the third roster pitcher (along with Olson and Jim Poole) to join the Orioles' off-season workouts yesterday. The big right-hander, who last week signed a $1.225 million contract for 1993, returned to the Baltimore area over the weekend after spending the holidays with his family in Louisiana.

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