Olson shops arm today at Towson State workout

January 24, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Ex-Orioles reliever Gregg Olson is scheduled to audition today at Towson State University for any major-league teams interested in signing him for next season.

A free agent after spending much of last year on the disabled list with the Atlanta Braves, Olson is recovering from an elbow injury that has restricted him since Aug. 9, 1993. Olson was then on an Orioles club-record-setting pace with 29 saves and a 1.60 ERA.

Olson, who would return only after the players strike has ended, has pitched sparingly since then and became a free agent 13 months ago, when the Orioles didn't offer him a contract because of poor medical reports. Olson opted to rehabilitate his elbow rather than risk surgery, which would have sidelined him for at least one year.

The Braves gambled $1.5 million on the curveballing right-hander last year, but he was unable to make an impact. Olson finished with an 0-2 record, one save and a 9.20 ERA, pitching only 14 2/3 innings.

As a former Oriole, Olson has taken advantage of the club's offer to use the facilities at Camden Yards. And, even though new pitching coach Mike Flanagan has been an observer, the Orioles will send special assignment scout Fred Uhlman Sr. to Towson for today's workout. Uhlman has watched him since his college days at Auburn.

Jeff Moorad, Olson's California-based agent, notified teams of the workout, but it was uncertain how many would attend. "I know Jeff told everyone, but I don't know what the showing will be," said Olson.

Moorad couldn't be reached for comment last night.

Olson holds the Oriole records for saves in a career (160) and season (37 in 1990), and the shortage of closers could heighten the interest of other teams. He said that he is close physically to where he was two years ago.

"Right now I'd say that I'm probably where I was last March," said Olson. "Physically, I'm assuming I'm the same as I was before [the injury].

"I saw myself five or six times last year with the same stuff I've had all my life," he said. "The other times were a big struggle.

"But I think I've gotten myself ironed out. I'm remembering some [mechanical] things I had forgotten."

Olson and Flanagan have had only casual conversations, mainly about the mental aspect of rehabilitation.

Flanagan was guarded in his appraisal but did say, "He has been better every time I've seen him. The toughest thing when you're getting over an injury is the period of time it takes for you to let go mentally.

"The problem Gregg faces right now is that he's not in midseason form and he's coming off a season when he only pitched [14 2/3 ] innings. It's a tough call."

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