Brave new world for Olson?

February 08, 1994|By Peter Schmuck and Ken Rosenthal | Peter Schmuck and Ken Rosenthal,Sun Staff Writers

Free-agent relief pitcher Gregg Olson was on the road again yesterday, visiting the Atlanta Braves for a workout and medical examination that could be the final steps in his six-week quest for a new contract.

His agent, Jeff Moorad, has said he will sign today, though it still is not entirely clear which way he will turn. The Braves are making no secret of their desire to pursue a contract and the New York Yankees reportedly tendered him a two-year offer last night that could stretch to three years if he requires elbow surgery during the 1994 season.

It appears that Atlanta has emerged as the front-runner. General manager John Schuerholz could not draw any hard-and-fast conclusions from yesterday's workout, but he seemed satisfied that Olson has rebounded from the partially torn elbow ligament that limited him to one appearance in the final two months of the 1993 season.

"I'm interested in pursuing it a bit more," said Schuerholz. "We were suitably satisfied as an organization with how he threw. It wasn't full speed. It wasn't at full strength. It wasn't with the stress of a hitter at home plate. But we're going to proceed ahead."

The addition of a healthy Olson would improve an already outstanding Braves pitching staff. The club won the National League West last year with Greg McMichael and Mike Stanton sharing short-relief duties. Olson could move in as the No. 1 closer, or benefit from a reduced workload while his elbow continues to heal.

"From the beginning, we were focused on the opportunity with each team," Moorad told the New York Post last night. "If we are leaning toward Atlanta, it is because we view the opportunity as a little clearer cut. On the other hand, we're not counting the Yankees out inthe decision-making process. The door remains open."

The question is, is the door still open to the Orioles, who have watched from the sidelines as Olson and Moorad pursued negotiations with a handful of other clubs?

The Orioles were skeptical enough of his physical condition to leave him untendered on the Dec. 20 deadline for sending out contracts, a decision that may have raised doubts about Olson with other teams. Recent medical reports have been more positive, putting the Braves -- as well as the division rival Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays -- in a better position to gamble on his arm.

"I'm not suggesting that we're clairvoyant," Schuerholz said. "We're going to take the steps that we think are prudent, like having him in today to throw and like having him go to our doctor . . . by trying to create a contract mechanism that gives us some measure of risk, but not substantial."

The Braves had the same surface reaction to Olson's workout as the Yankees did on Friday. He threw at about 65 percent velocity and snapped off some curveballs, doing just enough to show that his rehabilitation effort is on schedule.

"I don't think anyone can really take anything out of a workout like that," Schuerholz said, "but we saw nothing as a result of that to substantially persuade us away from pursuing him in the fashion that we have talked about."

Apparently, the Braves have been willing to discuss a multi-year contract, though the amount of guaranteed money involved is not known. If not for the elbow injury, Olson might already have signed a long-term contract with the Orioles -- or at least be in position to score big in arbitration -- but he figures to settle for a lesser guarantee and a contract loaded with incentives for 1994 and perhaps beyond.

The Yankees acted unimpressed after Olson's workout on Friday, but general manager Gene Michael has been in regular contact with Moorad ever since.

Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick was not available for comment. He has been in Venezuela scouting a prospect, but Moorad said Sunday that there were conversations with Blue Jays officials over the weekend.

Moorad was traveling from Hawaii to his office in Southern California yesterday and also was not available for comment, but he seemed confident on Sunday that Olson would come to a decision by today.

O'S TICKET LOTTERIES

In Saturday's editions, the post office box for the Orioles' ticket lottery was incorrect. The Sun regrets the error. Here is the correct information:

About 10,000 tickets will be up for grabs in two lotteries for tickets to Opening Day, April 4 against the Kansas City Royals. The game is a sellout except for seats to be distributed in the lotteries, one to the general public and a second to mini-plan season-ticket buyers.

Fans wishing to enter the general-public lottery should send postcards to: Orioles Opening Day Ticket Drawing, P.O. Box 29999, Baltimore, Md. 21330-0999.

Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 21, and there is no limit to the number of postcards that can be submitted. Winners may buy as many as two tickets, and there is a limit of one winning postcard per household.

The mini-plan lottery will be conducted by the Orioles, using the team's season-ticket list. Those customers should not send in postcards; winners will be notified after selections are made. Mini-plan winners will be limited to one Opening Day seat for each ticket in their season-ticket plans.

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