Staff aces, team talk long-term


April 15, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Orioles have expressed a willingness to negotiate long-term deals with pitchers Ben McDonald and Mike Mussina, the players' agents said last night.

"They're hinting that they may want to do something," said McDonald's agent, Scott Boras. "I don't have a clear read on what they want to do, how many years or on what terms. . . . [but] they're giving the indication they want to retain Ben for more than one year."

Arn Tellem represents Mussina. "We've talked in general about [a long-term deal]," said Tellem, "and Mike would prefer that. I would think they would recognize Mike is one of their key players and they should give him a multi-year deal. . . . A multi-year deal would be recognition for what he's done over the last three years."

Both pitchers are eligible for arbitration. Mussina has three-plus years of service time in the big leagues, McDonald four-plus. "With Mussina. . . . something like a three-year deal makes sense," Boras said. "With Ben, we have a service-time issue.

"He could be a free agent after this year, and usually signing a fifth-year guy is going to take a five-year contract or a four-year type [contract]. We'll have to take a look at it."

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond won't discuss contract negotiations, but has said in the past that locking up integral young players to long-term deals makes sense. Earlier this spring, the Orioles gave Chris Hoiles the longest contract for a catcher in 12 years, a five-year, $17.25 million deal.

Both Boras and Tellem expect to hear from Hemond or assistant general manager Frank Robinson in the next few days. "They're going to huddle and get back to us," Tellem said.

Mussina made $750,000 last year, McDonald $2.675 million.

Anderson slowed to a trot

After Brady Anderson homered in the first inning of yesterday's 9-6 exhibition loss to Toronto, he broke into a deliberate jaunt around the bases, worthy of a Bonds or Griffey.

However, this was not for show. Anderson was simply attempting to protect a sore right hamstring. "I had to slow down my home-run trot," he said.

Anderson played defense in the bottom of the first inning, then was removed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the second.

Manager Phil Regan said he wanted to take no chance further injuring Anderson, particularly since spring training is so short. Anderson said he expects to play today against Houston, but if he's hurting at all, Regan likely will bench him.

As for the other walking wounded, pitcher McDonald (sore right elbow) is expected to start tomorrow, while Matt Nokes (sore knee) and Jeffrey Hammonds (knee rehab) remained in Sarasota and aren't expected to play this weekend.

Zaun gets birthday present

Greg Zaun isn't sure if was just a coincidence, but for the first time in the three years he's been in the Orioles' camp, he got to start -- and it just happened to be on his 24th birthday.

Zaun took advantage of the opportunity, doubling in two runs in the second inning by pulling a ball down the right-field line. Later, he doubled again, finishing 2-for-3.

Before the game, Regan wished Zaun a happy birthday, leaving Zaun to wonder if the start was a present of sorts.

"If that was a birthday gift," Zaun said later, "thank you, Phil."

The nephew of former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, Zaun is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster. No. 1 catcher Hoiles just signed a five-year contract, and the Orioles paid decent money to land backup Nokes. They seem to be leaning toward retaining utility man Jeff Manto, figuring that Manto could serve as the third catcher and do other things.

Zaun says he's not bothered by the infrequent playing time in spring, the long odds. "I just want to do the best that I can every game out," he said, "because Mr. Regan has never seen me play before. I want him to feel comfortable with the idea. . . . of having me here, whether I make this team or start the year in Triple-A."

Brock hit in face

A small welt on the right side of the face of Russell Brock was beginning to form after yesterday's game, after he intercepted a ball off the bat of Toronto left fielder Robert Brock with his cheek. Brock said he lost the ball among the white-shirted fans behind home plate. "I didn't really see it," he said, "until it hit me. I got hit, and I kind of went numb on that side of my face. It wasn't that bad."

Brock finished that inning and pitched another.

Umps picket at park

About a dozen major-league umpires -- a portion of the union that is being locked out by major-league owners -- picketed Dunedin Stadium, greeting the replacement umpires with yells of "Go home, scabs!" and the like.

Inside, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he didn't want to comment on the umpires' plight, but did, anyway.

"You don't want to see anybody lose their jobs," he said. "Hopefully, they will get and agreement and get their jobs back."

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