O's consider Webster after Phils catcher is released Rangers inquire about Alexander's availability

March 26, 1996|By Buster Olney

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Philadelphia Phillies released catcher Lenny Webster yesterday, and his next stop may be with the Orioles.

The Orioles are searching for another catcher, and assistant general manager Kevin Malone said the team probably would have interest in Webster now that he's a free agent.

The Phillies tried numerous times to deal Webster to the Orioles during the past two months, but the Orioles declined to give them anything of substance; Philadelphia officials say Orioles GM Pat Gillick gambled that the Phillies eventually would have to release Webster. If so, Gillick guessed right.

Webster, 31, batted .267 with four homers and 14 RBIs for the Phillies last season. He played the 1994 season for the Expos, when Malone was GM in Montreal. He is considered to be an average defensive player.

The Orioles may not have a major-league job to offer Webster, however, if they decide to carry two catchers. They could offer him a minor-league contract, with the understanding he'll get a shot at promotion if Chris Hoiles' throwing problems worsen.

Texas GM Doug Melvin called the Orioles yesterday, after finding out that Benji Gil, the Rangers everyday shortstop, will be out for six to eight weeks because of back trouble. The Orioles have an extra shortstop -- Manny Alexander.

"I don't think he's available," said Melvin. "I don't know what it would take to get him anyway. He's had a good spring."

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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