Milacki, Athletics agree on minor-league deal Oakland or Texas may sign B. Ripken

January 30, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

Free-agent right-hander Bob Milacki has agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with the Oakland Athletics and has been invited to spring training to compete for a place in their starting rotation.

Milacki accepted a one-year deal worth $350,000 plus incentives to join the A's, who recently signed former Oriole Storm Davis to a two-year deal and also have added former Orioles 18-game winner Jeff Ballard to their Triple-A roster.

That leaves only three free agents from the 1992 Orioles roster unsigned, including Bill Ripken, who is believed to be close to signing with an American League West team. Attorney Ron Shapiro confirmed yesterday that there is interest in Ripken, but he declined to name the team or teams involved.

Milacki, who also had been courted by the California Angels, said, "They [the A's] really wanted me. They were really interested and I wanted to go wherever I'll get a chance to be a starting pitcher."

The deal also includes performance incentives that could push its value to $550,000, but Milacki still had to take a major step back from the $1.18 million salary that he won in arbitration last year.

Milacki looked like one of the Orioles' most promising young pitchers when he won 14 games as a rookie during the "Why Not?" season of 1989, but shoulder problems held him to 24 starts and a 5-8 record in 1990. He led the club with 10 victories in 1991, but struggled to a 6-8 record and a 5.84 ERA last year.

It was no surprise when the Orioles chose not to tender him a 1993 contract, but the club apparently did offer him a one-year deal at a substantial cut in salary before releasing him -- along with Randy Milligan, Mark McLemore, Mark Williamson and Sam Horn -- on Dec. 18.

"I have no bad feelings toward them," Milacki said. "I'm going to miss a lot of the guys I played with. . . They are going to have a good team this year. I wish I could have been part of it."

Ripken apparently is being courted by the Texas Rangers, who recently lost second baseman Jeff Frye to a season-threatening knee injury. Rangers officials apparently spoke with Shapiro yesterday. There also have been reports that the A's are interested.

"There are some things happening, but I'm not going to get into what they are at this point," Shapiro said. "We might have something more to report early next week."

The status of the two remaining unsigned '92 Orioles is less clear. Milligan still holds out hope of re-signing with the club in time to report to spring training. Left-handed reliever Mike Flanagan still is looking for an invitation to spring training from another club.

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