Mills makes triple salary pitch before arbitrator

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

February 11, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

Relief pitcher Alan Mills became only the second Orioles player in 16 years to take the club to salary arbitration yesterday, when agent Adam Katz presented his case at a hearing in Chicago.

Mills, who has been one of the club's more dependable relievers the past two seasons, is seeking to more than triple his 1993 salary with an arbitration request of $890,000. The Orioles filed a salary of $500,000, more than twice the $245,000 that Mills made last year.

The arbitrator must choose one of the two figures. The rules do not allow the award of a compromise salary, though the two sides can negotiate a compromise at any time up until the ruling is made. Generally, the arbitrator announces his decision the day after the hearing. Mills was 5-4 with a 3.23 ERA and four saves last year, appearing in 45 games and pitching more than 100 innings for the second straight season. He didn't match his impressive 1992 numbers (10-4, 2.61), but still ranked third among American League relievers in innings pitched (100 1/3 ) and eighth in strikeouts (68).

He is the first Orioles player to take the club to a hearing since right-hander Bob Milacki won his arbitration case two years ago, and only the second since infielder Billy Smith went through the process in 1978.

The Orioles could be right back in court today, if there is not a last-ditch attempt to come to terms with outfielder Mike Devereaux. He's scheduled for a hearing unless the sides can bridge the gap between his asking price of $3.95 million and the club's offer of $3.125 million, a $100,000 raise over last year.

Last year, Devereaux hit .250, with 14 home runs and 75 RBIs, compared to his 1992 figures of .276, 24 and 107. But he remains a productive hitter who can cover a lot of ground in center field.

Orioles consider Harper

The Orioles put out a feeler on free-agent catcher Brian Harper, but it appears he soon will sign with a team that can promise him more playing time.

Harper is a front-line catcher who batted .304 with 12 home runs and 73 RBIs for the Minnesota Twins last year, but he has been slow to attract a suitable contract offer on the free-agent market. Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin contacted agent Nick Lampros to inquire about him, but could not guarantee that he would be more than a part-time player in Baltimore.

"I think he's got a better opportunity with somebody else," Melvin said. "He can see that we have [Chris] Hoiles and [Harold] Baines here in the two positions that he plays. We just called to see what their thoughts were."

Lampros confirmed that Harper is more interested in a situation where he can compete for regular playing time, but he wouldn't dismiss a possible backup job .

"That's what we're been pointing at," Lampros said, "but we can't rule anything out. It's only a week until spring training."

Minicamp opens Monday

Melvin is on his way to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, Fla., where 35 of the club's younger prospects will open early minor-league camp on Monday.

The camp, which has taken the place of instructional league, gives the player development department a chance to work with players in an instructional and competitive setting. The team has scheduled eight games against the Philadelphia Phillies' early camp squad and against a team from Korea.

O'S TICKET LOTTERIES

About 10,000 tickets will be up for grabs in two lotteries for tickets to Opening Day, April 4 against the Kansas City Royals. Fans wishing to enter the general-public lottery should send postcards to: Orioles Opening Day Ticket Drawing, P.O. Box 29999, Baltimore, Md. 21230-0999.

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 NTC 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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