Team wins arbitration in hearing on Rhodes Last-minute compromise breaks down over base

Orioles notebook

February 21, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- As soon as he heard the news the Orioles had won their arbitration case against Arthur Rhodes yesterday, assistant general manager Kevin Malone called the pitcher in his hotel room. Hey, no hard feelings.

"I told him Pat [Gillick, general manager] and I didn't like the arbitration process," Malone said. "We don't enjoy going through it, but it's just part of the game."

Arbitrator Robert Light ruled in favor of the Orioles' offer of $300,000. Rhodes, who earned $275,000 last year and went 2-5 with a 6.21 ERA, asked for $675,000.

"I'm not upset about it," Rhodes said. "It's just the way it's set up. Lose or win, you've got to be [satisfied] with the decision. I'm fine with it."

The hearing, held Monday in New York, was delayed by about 20 minutes, as Gillick and Malone attempted to work out a compromise with Rhodes' agent. They wanted to offer him some incentive clauses, but the talks broke down when the Orioles refused to increase their base-salary offer of $300,000.

"We thought it was an accurate [arbitration proposal]," Malone said. "We thought it was fair. We thought for the production [from Rhodes] last year, it was fair."

Club counsel Russell Smouse argued the arbitration case for the Orioles this year. Last year, the Orioles won and lost in arbitration, winning against third baseman Leo Gomez (paid $925,000) and losing against pitcher Ben McDonald (paid $4.5 million).

Myers on the way

Manager Davey Johnson called Randy Myers at his home in Washington on Monday to encourage the reliever to report to camp.

"I guess they've had some flooding up by where he lives," Johnson said, "and he's got to move his mother out of her house and into his house. Randy plans on being here [tomorrow]. I look forward to seeing him."

Pitchers and catchers reported to camp last week, but according to the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, they aren't required to report until March 1.

And what of the community college basketball team Myers coaches? "He said they've made the final eight of whatever tournament they're in," Johnson said.

Infielder Manny Alexander will be late, as well. Johnson said Alexander, a native of the Dominican Republic, is having troubles with his visa. Alexander will be competing with Bill Ripken and Jeff Huson for the little remaining playing time left for the backup infielders.

Signings update

Seven players remain unsigned, including Jeffrey Hammonds. Malone said that he doesn't anticipate any problems reaching an agreement with any of those seven, but that the club unilaterally will renew the contracts of any unsigned players by March 2.

"We're not going to let anybody play in a game who hasn't signed a contract," Malone said.

No soreness for Hoiles

As training camp opened, Johnson told catcher Chris Hoiles to take it easy this spring, not to make too many throws and hurt his arm. Almost every spring, Hoiles' shoulder bothers him early in camp, and, last year, the pain didn't go away for four months.

When the pitchers go through their daily bullpen workout, Hoiles catches one pitcher and then turns over his duties to bullpen catcher Sammy Snider. So far, so good for Hoiles' shoulder.

"Everything feels great, and I think you really have to attribute that to the fact I'm not throwing as much," Hoiles said. "This is first spring I haven't gotten sore. It feels fine."

Miscellaneous

Reliever Roger McDowell was bothered by slight tightness in his throwing shoulder after his first day of throwing, but he's doing better now. . . . Position players are not expected to work out until today, but a bunch were in uniform yesterday, fielding grounders and fly balls and taking batting practice. It would be easier listing the players who hadn't yet appeared at camp by 4 p.m. yesterday: Myers, shortstop Cal Ripken, second baseman Roberto Alomar, second baseman Alexander, outfielder Brady Anderson, infielder Juan Bautista and third baseman Willis Ontanez. "A lot of guys rolled in here," Johnson said. "There's a lot of eagerness to get going."

There are four mounds under cover in the complex, two sets of two side-by-side, making for some interesting pairings of pitchers. Rocky Coppinger and Jimmy Haynes, the Orioles' top two pitching prospects, throw side-by-side, as do Rhodes and Alan Mills, both of whom are recovering from shoulder surgery. . . . Joe Hall, a nonroster outfielder invited to camp, also is working out at catcher. . . . David Wells has slight hamstring tightness, but it didn't prevent him from participating in drills. . . . Johnson said a lot of the younger players have offered to take grounders at third. "With the signing of Roberto Alomar and with Ripken in the infield," he said, "these guys are a lot more interested in third base."

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