Van Slyke said to reject club's $1 million offer

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 09, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Three free-agent signings in one day wasn't enough for the Orioles. They apparently tried for a fourth: outfielder Andy Van Slyke.

However, Van Slyke turned down the Orioles' one-year offer of close to $1 million yesterday, according to a club source, who indicated the difference between the Orioles' bid and Van Slyke's request "is substantial."

Van Slyke's agent, Dick Moss, denied that an offer had been made. "I'm waiting to hear from Roland [Hemond, the Orioles GM]," he said.

The Orioles are expected to resume their pursuit of Van Slyke, who hit .246 with six homers and 30 RBIs for the Pittsburgh Pirates last year.

Manager Phil Regan said he would like another veteran to lend insurance in the outfield. Van Slyke, 34, is the leading candidate, though he is coming off a terrible season.

"I have some interest in him," Regan said. "I liked the way he played in Pittsburgh. He's a very team-type player."

Getting his wish

Pitcher Kevin Brown said the Orioles were his first choice all along. He had talked with them in the fall and was disappointed when those negotiations broke down.

He wanted to play at Camden Yards, with good infield defense behind him, and with former teammate Rafael Palmeiro.

Once Brown decided to take a one-year deal rather than hold out for a multiyear contract, he got his wish. "Hopefully, I'll have a good year," Brown said, "and the Orioles will want to keep me around for a while."

Brown said the anti-replacement player stance of owner Peter Angelos was important in his decision to sign with the Orioles. "I have a lot of respect for someone who has beliefs and morals and sticks by his guns even though people around him disagree with him."

Brown went 7-9 for Texas last year, two years after winning 21 games. "I had a terrible first three weeks," Brown said. "After that, I thought I pitched well. . . . It was one of those years when everything that could go wrong went wrong.

"The first part of the year, I stunk. I just couldn't buy an out."

The Orioles are hoping their $4.225 million investment in Brown buys lots of outs.

Changing climate

Doug Jones, one of three free agents signed by the Orioles yesterday, was a victim of the sudden change in baseball's financial climate. Luckily for the Orioles.

Jones negotiated seriously with Cleveland and came close to completing a deal "several times," he said.

"But [Wednesday], they changed their offer sheet drastically because of the nine home games they lost on their schedule. They almost cut their offer in half overnight. That sent us for a loop, and we had to regroup."

Because Cleveland's offer was cut, Jones fell from the upper-middle class into the heart of baseball's middle class, into the price range of the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox. "We heard from three or four teams in 36 hours," Jones said.

One was the Orioles, whose offer of a $1 million base salary was almost 50 percent higher than Cleveland's final offer of $700,000.

He hasn't heard

No one has told Jamie Moyer that he has been bumped from the rotation into the bullpen.

"I don't know what their plans are, and until I sit down and talk to them, there's no need to," he said. "How it's going to affect me, what's going to happen, I have no idea."

Moyer was asked if he had any problem with being moved to the bullpen. "No," he said flatly.

Hit by batter

Pitcher Mike Mussina was hit in the lower back by a line drive as he threw batting practice yesterday. Harold Baines smashed the ball, and although Mussina was throwing from behind a protective cage, he could not duck behind the screen to avoid being hit.

Mussina finished his workout, throwing another 10 pitches or so, before retreating for the clubhouse and an ice pack. Afterward, a large welt was prominent on his back, just above his right hip.

"Right about the time I saw it," said Mussina, "was the time it was hitting me."

Mussina said he'll be fine: "Hey, it happens."

Around the horn

New Orioles Brown, Jones and Jesse Orosco are expected at today's workout, meaning the club should have its entire major-league roster, save for injured pitcher Mark Eichhorn, on the field. . . . Sherman Obando, who likely will make the club to serve as a part-time designated hitter or right-handed hitter off the bench, will begin working out in left field today. . . . The body fat percentage of left-hander Sid Fernandez dropped from about 22 or 23 percent to 12 or 13 percent, according to Regan.

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