Team gives Van Slyke sweeter deal

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

April 22, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Word apparently got back to Orioles owner Peter Angelos that Andy Van Slyke wasn't happy with the way negotiations with the Orioles progressed. When the outfielder formally signed yesterday, Van Slyke got a lot more cash than he expected.

"It was a nice gesture on [Angelos'] part," Van Slyke said. "I appreciated that."

According to baseball sources, Van Slyke orally agreed Tuesday to a one-year contract with a $500,000 base and the opportunity to earn about $150,000 in incentives.

But late Thursday night, the Orioles bumped the base salary up to $550,000, with the possibility of earning $250,000 in incentives, meaning that the potential value of Van Slyke's contract jumped from $650,000 to $800,000.

The incentives are well within Van Slyke's grasp. When he appears in his 70th game of the year, he would earn $50,000; at game No. 90, another $50,000; at game No. 105, another $75,000; and at game No. 115, another $75,000.

Van Slyke passed a 90-minute physical yesterday morning, signed his contract in the office of general manager Roland Hemond, then drove here from Sarasota to play in the Orioles' exhibition game against the Toronto Blue Jays, a 6-3 loss in which he went 0-for-3.

When asked if he was happy with the terms of his contract, Van Slyke said, "I'm very happy I got a contract.

"I could always not sign if I wasn't happy about it," added Van Slyke, who played for $3.65 million last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. "It wasn't an unfair contract, given what's going on around baseball and the kind of year I had last year."

Van Slyke hit .246 with six homers and 30 RBIs. "I'd like to get back mechanically where I was in 1992 and 1993," said the former All-Star.

Orioles manager Phil Regan said he has liked what he has seen so far, but said Van Slyke has a long way to go before he'll be in playing shape. "He needs to get a lot of work in," Regan said. "But we're very happy to have him."

Said Hemond: "We're very pleased -- he looks like he's ready to perform well."

Van Slyke could begin the year platooning against right-handers, but Regan would not rule out the possibility that Van Slyke eventually could play center field every day. "He's got a chance to play 120-125 games," Regan said.

Angelos would not comment on the negotiations or the alteration of his final offer. He talked with Van Slyke yesterday morning, welcoming him to the Orioles, and said he hoped Van Slyke would remain with the team in the future.

As for the past two weeks and the hardball negotiations, Van Slyke said he wanted to forget them. "I'd just as soon never talk about that again," he said.

The addition of Van Slyke, Regan said, means that Curtis Goodwin will return to the minor leagues to play every day.

Other signings

The Orioles agreed to terms with six others, all unsigned players who aren't eligible for arbitration: third baseman Jeff Manto, outfielders Sherman Obando, Damon Buford, Jeffrey Hammonds and Jack Voigt, and pitcher Brad Pennington.

The team also unilaterally renewed the contract of Arthur Rhodes -- which is its right with players not yet eligible for arbitration -- when it couldn't reach agreement with Rhodes' agent.

"I don't want to talk about that," said Rhodes, who will earn $230,000 this year. "I'm not mad, I'm not putting anybody down. They renewed my contract, and that's it."

Hammonds signed for $250,000 (and a $25,000 bonus if he makes the All-Star team), Voigt $155,000, Buford and Manto $140,000 apiece, and Pennington $135,000. Obando's salary was unavailable.

Some of the '95 salaries of those players who agreed to terms in the past week: Manny Alexander $130,000, Armando Benitez $125,000, Mike Oquist $125,000.

The only unsigned Orioles are the four arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald, third baseman Leo Gomez and second baseman Bret Barberie. The Orioles and players will exchange arbitration figures next Friday.

Around the horn

First baseman Rafael Palmeiro and left fielder Brady Anderson took the day off. Shortstop Cal Ripken won't play today against the White Sox. . . . Kevin Brown pitched in an intrasquad game in Sarasota, Fla., yesterday. . . . Triple-A shortstop Jeff Huson will join the team in Philadelphia on Monday and play in the exhibition against the Phillies. Regan wouldn't say whether Huson will stay with the Orioles or go back to the Red Wings, but a club source said that Huson and pitcher John DeSilva -- the other Rochester player who will play in Philadelphia -- are likely to return to the minors. . . . As expected, pitcher Brian Sackinsky was optioned to Rochester. More cuts are expected today. . . . Regan was pleased that yesterday's starter, Rhodes, pitched four good innings after allowing two runs to the Blue Jays in the first.

UPS AND DOWNS

The good and the bad from the Orioles' 6-3 exhibition loss to the Blue Jays yesterday:

HIGHLIGHTS

* Shortstop Cal Ripken went 1-for-4 and drove in two runs.

Catcher Matt Nokes went 2-for-3 with one RBI.

* Left fielder Kevin Bass went 2-for-4, scored twice and stole a base.

LOWLIGHTS

* Closer Doug Jones, handicapped by some poor defense behind him, allowed three runs in the eighth inning and was the losing pitcher.

* Second baseman Bret Barberie went 0-for-2 and is now batting

.067 (1-for-15) in spring training.

* Harold Baines, recovering from a sore right shoulder, went 0-for-3.

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