Olson works out, gets offer he can refuse

January 25, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Gregg Olson's informal workout at Towson State last night attracted about a dozen scouts -- and resulted in an offer.

It was one the former Orioles right-hander had no trouble refusing.

"One club asked if Gregg would consider being a replacement player," said Jeff Moorad, Olson's agent, who wouldn't identify the team. "Gregg has no interest in doing that -- he and [Orioles owner] Peter Angelos have the same feeling about replacement players."

Throwing off a portable pitching mound on the basketball floor at the Towson Center, Olson said he thought he was performing at "75-80 percent" of his ability. The scouts in attendance seemed guarded in their appraisals, but all appeared to express interest in taking another look at a later date.

Fred Uhlman Sr., special assignment scout for the Orioles, was there and said it appeared Olson was throwing pain-free. "He was free and easy, with no restriction," said Uhlman, who scouted Olson at Auburn and was instrumental in his selection and signing by the Orioles.

"I'm sure Gregg feels he'll get stronger and I believe he will. We'll just have to wait and see," said Uhlman, who wouldn't reveal what his report will be to general manager Roland Hemond and assistant GM Frank Robinson.

"I'd rather wait and give my report to them first," he said. "But right now is really too early to make any judgment -- it's January and he's throwing indoors.

"The only way you could judge somebody indoors is if you brought somebody in who had just finished winter ball and have him throw indoors. But right now I wouldn't have anything negative to say at all."

Olson, who pitched sparingly last year after being signed as a free agent by Atlanta, wasn't offered a 1995 contract by the Braves, who were not among the teams represented last night. An elbow injury sidelined him in August 1993 and has affected him most of the time since.

Rehabilitation, rather than surgery, was Olson's choice, and the process has been slow. But he said he is satisfied with his condition. "I feel very good about everything," he said. "This gave me a chance to show them [the scouts] I'm healthy."

Olson isn't sure how close he is to being in the kind of shape it would take for him to get a contract, but indicated there was no hurry.

"I can't sign now, anyway," he said. "I'm bound to the union and won't do anything until they give the go-ahead."

A year ago, negotiations between Moorad and the Orioles broke down and left some bad feelings. A month later, when the Orioles were negotiating with another Moorad client, Will Clark, animosity again appeared to develop, with the agent and Angelos trading barbs.

Moorad said last year's negotiations will have no bearing on what happens this time. "It's a clean slate at this stage," he said.

"Roland has been very diligent about staying in touch, as always. If Peter Angelos and the club decide Gregg could help, we'll certainly listen. I'd love the opportunity to help the Orioles and Jeffrey Hammonds [another Moorad client] win some games."

At this point, the extent of the Orioles' interest, as well as that of other clubs, could be described as curious. If Olson can prove he's healthy and that he has regained his arm strength, a lot of teams will be interested -- though it's unlikely any would commit to a guarantee.

Olson's track record -- 160 saves while becoming the first reliever to record 20 or more in his first five years -- will come into consideration.

"You have to take that into account," said Uhlman. "He's done it before, so you have to say he could do it again."

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