O's try Hoiles waivers, but can find no takers Team refuses to confirm attempt to unload catcher

July 07, 1996|By Buster Olney and Jason LaCanfora | Buster Olney and Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF The Hartford Courant contributed to this article.

The Orioles placed catcher Chris Hoiles on outright waivers within the last month, making him available to any team for $20,000, according to league sources. However, no team took Hoiles, who still has 3 1/2 years remaining on the five-year, $17.25 million deal he signed before the 1995 season.

By placing Hoiles on waivers, the Orioles' obvious hope was to have another team claim him and take on the rest of his contract. Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone would not confirm that waivers had been asked on Hoiles, and wouldn't comment.

Hoiles is hitting .222 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs, and his playing time has gradually been reduced as the season has progressed, with backup Gregg Zaun assuming more responsibility.

Hoiles began having shoulder problems within days after signing his contract, and has been diagnosed with a form of arthritis in one part of his shoulder, a condition that has affected his throwing.

The Orioles have been in the market for another catcher since last December. At first, they wanted a backup who could take over for Hoiles if his shoulder problems became prohibitive.

But over the last month, they've begun searching for an everyday catcher; club sources say the Orioles like Oakland's Terry Steinbach and Toronto's Charlie O'Brien, but Philadelphia's Benito Santiago is more affordable. The Phillies have asked for Jeffrey Hammonds, the Orioles declining. Executives from both teams are expected to meet during the All-Star break.

There are several forms of waivers:

Outright waivers, like those the Orioles asked on Hoiles; a player can clear those, as Hoiles did, and remain with the team.

Irrevocable waivers; a player that clears irrevocable waivers without being claimed is released.

Major-league waivers, which are required if a player is to be included in a deal after the July 31 trade deadline. For instance, if the Orioles wanted to deal Hoiles on Aug. 15, they would have to pass him through waivers. If another team claimed him, the Orioles could pull him back and keep him.

But that's something they wouldn't do.

Johnson high on Mills

Manager Davey Johnson has high hopes for reliever Alan Mills in the second half.

Mills had arthroscopic shoulder surgery last August and Johnson has brought him along very slowly. Mills was on the disabled list until early May, then went on a tear where he struck out 14 batters in nine innings (five appearances).

But on June 26 Mills blew a save opportunity in Texas and on Friday he yielded a three-run homer to Jose Canseco, the first batter he faced. Mills proceeded to give up a single and two walks to load the bases before getting three straight outs to end the rally.

"Even though he had that rough outing, I look for Mills to be a big factor in the second half," Johnson said. "I've been trying to build his arm and not abuse it. But at some point you have to go to the whip, and for me the whip comes out after the [All-Star] break."

Johnson said Mills' competitive spirit hurts him at times.

"It's location," Johnson said. "And part of that is his intensity gets so high that he overthrows. When you overthrow you lose location. He's an intense competitor and sometimes he gets carried away with it."

Hobbled Bonilla back at DH

Bobby Bonilla was the designated hitter yesterday, the fourth straight game he has spent on the bench and not in the outfield.

"Bobby's probably a little bit hobbled," Johnson said of Bonilla, who fouled balls off both legs earlier in the week. "If he was 100 percent, I'd put him in right [field]."

Vaughn also hurting

Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn also is hurting, and says the sore middle finger on his right hand that he's been nursing since May 28 may keep him out of the All-Star Game.

"I could use the three days," said Vaughn, who is hitting .154 in his past seven games and is without a homer the past 13. "I've thought about it. Timmy [Naehring] has had a great year and deserves to go. I'm going to talk it over with my father and see."

If Vaughn doesn't go, Naehring (.326, 12 homers) or Jose Canseco (.301, 26) would likely be selected as Boston's representative.

Huson not keen on Triple-A

Jeff Huson, who is on the disabled list and rehabbing with Rochester, said he is unlikely to accept a demotion to Triple-A when he comes off the DL.

The Orioles are scheduled to meet with Huson on Wednesday. Huson, who had arthoscopic knee surgery on May 21, has more than five years of major-league service time and has the right to refuse an option to the minors.

The utility infielder said he has two reasons for rejecting an assignment to Rochester.

"First, I feel I can play in the big leagues," Huson said. "Second, I'd come down here [to Rochester] and wait for Cal [Ripken] or Roberto [Alomar] to get hurt, and that ain't going to happen."

Huson, who also has been playing the outfield at Rochester, said he would agree to go to Rochester if the Orioles assured him there would be scouts from other clubs there to see him play.

Hurting off-season

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