Shown the door, Milligan doesn't want to leave

January 26, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

Randy Milligan worked out at Oriole Park yesterday. His nameplate remains above his locker. His uniform still hangs there, too. He still holds out a sliver of hope that they will be there Opening Day, but he is not fooling himself.

The Orioles didn't tender him a contract last month. The acquisition of Harold Baines two weeks ago pushed him farther out of the picture. General manager Roland Hemond even called to tell Milligan how much the club appreciated his efforts the past four years, which is just the thing you don't want to hear when you were hoping to be back for a fifth.

"I don't know what the problem is between me and the Orioles," said Milligan, 31, who came here from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Peter Blohm in November 1988. "I never demanded anything from them. I'm not the kind of player to make demands. Mark Williamson was offered a contract. Mark McLemore was offered a contract. I saw where Bob Milacki was offered a contract. But I definitely was never offered a contract."

It isn't hard to sense some hurt there. Milligan has played the good soldier the past two years, both years filling in for the injured Glenn Davis without complaint after being displaced as the starting first baseman. He figured to provide the same kind of insurance this season until the Orioles signed Baines and announced that David Segui would play first if Davis were not able.

Milligan still can see where he fits in, even if the club cannot. He has nothing bad to say about Segui or Davis. He has nothing bad to say about the Orioles. He even said he would be willing to accept a lesser role if that's what it would take to keep him in Baltimore.

"I would like to play for the Baltimore Orioles," he said. "I have never said I wanted to go with any other organization. My fondest memories are in Baltimore. People associate me with the Orioles. I don't want to go anywhere else."

Perhaps he won't have any other choice. The club has given every indication that he will not be invited back, but one team official said yesterday, "The door is still open a crack." What that means is not clear, but Milligan hopes it means that there is some room for discussion.

Hemond, who seemed to indicate otherwise the day of the Baines signing, said yesterday that he could not rule out Milligan entirely. He seemed surprised to hear that Milligan was willing to be flexible about his future.

"That's good to know," Hemond said. "I thought he had written the possibility off."

Whether that will signal a resumption of discussions between the Orioles and agent Mike Powers remains to be seen. Milligan obviously hopes so. He said he was shocked and saddened when the club announced Dec. 18 that he was one of five arbitration-eligible players who would not be offered 1993 contracts.

"I never expected that," Milligan said. "I knew I was going to take a cut in pay, because I didn't have a good season [.240, 11 homers, 53 RBI in 462 at-bats]. But I never thought that I wouldn't be offered a contract. I read some newspaper stories where people said that it was a possibility, but I never really thought that it was. Then they released Billy [Ripken], and I said, 'Uh-oh, I'm in trouble.' "

That was just days before the five-player purge. Milligan continued about his off-season business, which consisted of a winter conditioning program and the preparations for last weekend's Diamond Ball at Camden Yards -- a charity banquet to benefit Milligan's foundation for inner-city kids.

The banquet was a big success, drawing a capacity crowd of 560. The extensive preparation also served another purpose. It allowed him to keep his mind off his uncertain contract situation.

"I was really down," he said, "so doing the banquet was really good for me. And since it possibly is the last thing like that I might do in Baltimore, I wanted it to be grand. It was grand."

Milligan has done a lot to endear himself to the local populace. He has been a presence in the community, and he is the kind of hard-working, blue-collar type player who is quickly embraced by local fans.

"I've always felt there are certain players who represent the Orioles -- like Cal [Ripken]," he said. "I feel like I am one of those people. I went out into the community to represent the Orioles, and I tried to do everything I could for the Orioles. I even went to the outfield when Glenn came here. I didn't do very well, but I tried.

"That's why I can't understand it. I know it's a business. I understand that the club has to make tough decisions. But just being out there like this is kind of hard to deal with."

He doesn't figure to remain unemployed much longer. He said yesterday that he has had proposals from other clubs, but has been reluctant to accept any until he is certain that the Orioles are no longer an option.

"The hardest thing of all is leaving," he said. "I don't like to make changes. When you go to a new team, you've got to learn a new town, meet new people and get used to a different organization that has a different attitude and different players. This is my home."

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