Sabo tells Orioles full time or no time

June 06, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

As Chris Sabo sees it, his only value to a baseball team is as a starting third baseman, so he is hurting the Orioles by occupying a spot on the roster.

Consequently, Sabo is doing everything in his power to get the Orioles to trade him, including limiting their options on how he can be used.

"I can't play anywhere but third base. I'm not a pinch hitter, and I won't DH," said Sabo, offering a self-evaluation. "I've told them on numerous occasions I want to be traded. Just get what you can for me. If I don't have enough value now, send me to the minors where I can increase my value."

Sabo, who by his choice did not take ground balls before games for the first 12 days after returning from the disabled list May 22, figures the Orioles would be adding to their chances of winning by subtracting him from the roster.

"This isn't good for the team right now," Sabo said.

Nevertheless, Sabo remained on the 25-man roster as the team flew to Kansas City after defeating the Chicago White Sox, 8-5, yesterday.

First baseman Rafael Palmeiro's ingrown toenail left his playing status in doubt for two days, which left Orioles manager Johnny Oates tinkering with his lineup card before both games.

Moving Gomez from third base to first base and playing Sabo at third was not an option.

Why?

"I haven't played third base in the big leagues in a month and I don't feel comfortable doing it right now in the big leagues," Sabo said. "I'm ready to play third every day in the minor leagues."

Sabo, who made an official trade request through his agent last week, reiterated his desire to go to the minor leagues, where he could play third base on a daily basis and prove to other clubs his back is up to the task. Sabo, who signed a one-year, $2 million free-agent contract with the Orioles, would not bring much bargaining power into the winter if he spent the rest of the season on the Orioles' bench.

"How is a team going to trade for me if I play once in a blue moon?" Sabo said.

Said Oates: "I told him to let me know when he feels comfortable playing there, but he never refused to play because I didn't ask him to play."

If Sabo were to refuse to play, the Orioles would have the option of suspending him without pay.

A player with three years' major-league service must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, a procedure that takes 72 hours. The Orioles have not requested waivers on Sabo, Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said.

Added Oates: "Sending Chris to the minors is easy for him to say, but a little harder for us to do. He has to clear waivers and I think someone would claim him."

If a team claimed Sabo, the Orioles would be able to keep him by taking him off waivers.

Unless Sabo reinjures his back and is placed on the disabled list, he can't go to the minor leagues on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

Sabo appeared puzzled that anyone would portray him as selfish for his reaction to being benched in favor of hot-hitting Leo Gomez.

"I'm not a role player and I've never been a role player, and I won't accept being a role player now," Sabo said. "This is not helping the team and it's a good team. I have every right to refuse being a role player. It would be best for the team if they had someone who can be a reserve. If they had signed me as a role player, fine, but that was not the case. Me and Leo did not create the situation ourselves. They've made their choice, which is fine. I like Leo. I have no problem with Leo.

"I've talked to Roland and told him I want to be traded and I've told Johnny I want to be traded. Who else do you want me to call, Peter Angelos and tell him I want to be traded to complete the triumvirate?"

Sabo was booed during his last appearance, which came Thursday against Detroit, his fourth start since returning from the disabled list.

"I'm the one taking the abuse," Sabo said. "Management hasn't taken any, which is fine. You don't hear me complaining about people booing me, people getting on me."

If Sabo has his way, he has seen the last of the home clubhouse at Oriole Park. If he does not have his way, he surely has not heard the last of the boos at Camden Yards.

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