B. Ripken, Milligan sign up for little R & R First baseman, ends Oriole Wait, joins Reds

February 02, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Randy Milligan's uncertainty about his 1993 playing address ended yesterday, when the former Orioles first baseman signed with the Cincinnati Reds.

Terms were not revealed, but Milligan did get a major-league contract.

"We took a cut," said Mike Powers, who represents Milligan, "but no more than anybody else."

The reference was to the large number of "middle-ground" players who have seen their salaries reduced by more than 50 percent. Milligan, who was unavailable for comment, made $1.05 million last year, but apparently will work for less than half of that this year.

Milligan was one of five Orioles players (along with Bob Milacki, Mark Williamson, Mark McLemore and Sam Horn) who were not tendered contracts by the Dec. 18 deadline. Of the five, Horn is now the only one without a contract. McLemore and Williamson re-signed with the Orioles, and Milacki accepted a minor-league contract with the Oakland Athletics.

Even though they have a congested situation at first base, the Orioles had discussions with Milligan as recently as last week.

"Randy made it clear from the beginning he preferred to stay here," said general manager Roland Hemond. "But we're a little crowded at first base, and, with the addition of Harold Baines, we couldn't make promises that we might not be able to keep down the road.

"We had some discussions, but he decided to take the offer from Cincinnati. We wish him well. Randy was a very productive and popular player here," said Hemond.

Powers said the Orioles talks eventually just dwindled.

"We were very up front with them from the beginning [about Milligan's desire to stay in Baltimore]," said Powers. "We had more than conversations; we had contract talks.

"We did get that far. They made an offer and we countered, but we just seemed to get stuck there."

Powers said the Reds were one of six teams on Milligan's original list of places he might find a good fit.

"We were dealing with three clubs," said Powers, "but the Reds made it clear to us that they wanted us and that they really want to win.

"One of Randy's goals is to put a [World Series] ring on his finger, and the Reds seem to be serious about getting there. There is some anxiety about going back to the National League [Milligan started his career with the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates] because Randy felt he'd found a comfort zone in the American League. But, all in all, he's just happy to have it done."

After hitting .265 with 60 home runs and 175 RBI over the previous three years, Milligan hit .240 with 11 home runs and 53 RBI in 137 games last season.

The Reds' starting first baseman last season was Hal Morris, who missed a quarter of the year with injuries and ended up with six homers and 53 RBI. It is possible that Milligan could platoon with Morris, who hits left-handed.

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