Orioles reward Moyer for solid '93 with 1-year contract for '94

December 31, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

Left-hander Jamie Moyer salvaged his career with a solid season in the Orioles' starting rotation last year, and yesterday he was rewarded with a new one-year contract that also calls for an option on the 1995 season.

Moyer, 31, was called up to the major-league club after winning six straight decisions for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. That performance, combined with his 12 victories for the Orioles, made him the winningest pitcher in the organization.

"If he pitches anywhere close to the way he did for us last year, he's going to be a very important part of our ballclub," manager Johnny Oates said.

His 12-9 record and 3.43 ERA helped hold together an Orioles pitching staff that was handicapped by injuries to ace Mike Mussina and closer Gregg Olson, and his performance was even more impressive than his numbers. He gave up two or fewer earned runs in 17 of his 25 starts and easily could have ended up with several more victories.

It was a breakthrough season for a pitcher who had been fighting for his professional life the previous three seasons. He played for six different major- and minor-league teams and spent the entire 1992 season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens before signing a minor-league contract with the Orioles last winter.

The turnaround began in Toledo, where he was 10-8 with a 2.86 ERA in 21 appearances. It took hold last spring in Rochester, where he was 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He went winless in his first four starts for the Orioles, then won seven of his next eight decisions to secure his place in the rotation. He also had a five-game winning streak late in the season.

"Jamie is the type of person that you're tickled to death when he gets an opportunity and takes advantage of it," Oates said. "Somewhere deep inside, you pull for people like Jamie to do well, because of the kind of person he is. If you were in a foxhole, he's the guy you want next to you, because you know he isn't going to leave until the job is done."

Moyer will go to spring training projected as the No. 4 starter in an improved Orioles rotation. Mussina is expected to be back at full strength and Ben McDonald has come into his own.

The Orioles beefed up the rotation when they signed left-hander Sid Fernandez, leaving Moyer and left-hander Arthur Rhodes likely to fill the final two starting jobs.

The Orioles continue to chip away at a winter's worth of paperwork.

The Moyer signing drops to 29 the number of unsigned players on the 40-man roster and leaves the club with five potential arbitration cases.

Though this is supposed to be the quietest week of the year for major-league clubs, the Orioles have remained busy even in the absence of vacationing Roland Hemond. Assistant general manager Doug Melvin has finalized one-year contracts for Moyer, catcher Chris Hoiles and minor-league pitcher Barry Manuel.

The club will close its offices today and get back down to #F business next week, when talks will resume with the New York Mets about a possible deal for outfielder Bobby Bonilla and negotiations will continue with untendered reliever Olson.

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