Mike Mussina will earn $21.855 million over the length of his three-year contract extension if he makes at least 33 starts covering a minimum 230 innings each season for the Orioles.
Of that total, $1.38 million comes in the form of double-tiered appearance incentives. Mussina will earn an additional $130,000 each year if he pitches 205 innings and another $100,000 if he reaches 230 innings.
A companion clause provides him $130,000 if he makes 28 starts and another $100,000 if he attains 33 starts. The two tiers were based on Mussina's past two seasons, in which he made 32 starts covering 221 2/3 innings in 1995 and 36 starts over 243 1/3 innings in 1996. So far this year he is 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA in six starts for 38 1/3 innings.
Though attainable, the level of incentives reinforces Mussina's willingness to compromise to remain with the only organization he has known.
While some within the players union have questioned whether Mussina's $20.475 million base was a coup for the organization and owner Peter Angelos, players association executive counsel Donald Fehr referred to it yesterday as a "garden-variety contract" that will have little impact on potential free agents such as Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
"Our task is to create the negotiating framework in which individual salaries take place and to make sure whoever represents him is up to date on what the salary structure is," Fehr said. "The players make their individual decision on their own, in his case how much is playing in a certain city worth against making top dollar."
Mussina's $20.475 million base salary for three years is lower than the annual $7 million the Florida Marlins gave Alex Fernandez or the record $8.25 million average awarded Roger Clemens by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Glavine, for one, took exception to the Mussina contract, saying yesterday, "That's OK if he wants to sell himself short."
Like Mussina, Glavine would prefer to remain with his present team and complete negotiations during the season. Rather than use Mussina as a yardstick, Glavine intends to compare himself to Clemens. As for recent comments by Braves general manager John Schuerholz comparing Mussina favorably with Glavine, the Braves left-hander said, "I'll bite my tongue on that one."
Although Mussina said he has received no negative feedback regarding his contract, the NL players rep didn't duck the issue.
"I don't know what Mike Mussina is worth," Glavine said. "Only Mike Mussina knows what he thinks he's worth. That doesn't mean I or anyone else have to be happy with that."
Mussina admittedly diminished his leverage by not testing the market after this season. However, he believed a no-trade clause that guarantees he will play here through 2000 more than compensated for the concessions on salary and deferred money.
Approximately $1.5 million of each year's salary will be deferred at no interest, dropping the present-day value to about $20 million.
"Sure, somebody is going to bring it up and compare," Fehr said. "But somebody else is going to mention the fact of when he signed and what the conditions were."
Daulton talks renewed
The Orioles talked to the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday about slugger Darren Daulton, 35, whom the club envisions mostly as a designated hitter and left-handed bat off the bench.
Phillies general manager Lee Thomas informed Orioles GM Pat Gillick that he's now willing to pick up a sizable chunk of Daulton's $5 million salary, and will start shopping the former catcher to other teams.
Daulton's knees no longer permit him to catch, and he's been playing some in right field this year.
Benitez still feels liner
Reliever Armando Benitez still was experiencing some soreness in his left knee, the result of being hit by a line drive by Oakland's Jose Canseco in the ninth inning of Friday's 7-1 RTC victory. Benitez finished the game and pitched to two batters the next day, walking both.
Asked if he would be able to pitch last night if needed, Benitez said, "Tomorrow."
Hitting coach Rick Down said Jeffrey Hammonds, who hasn't played since aggravating a pulled abdominal muscle last Tuesday, looked "very good" hitting off a tee again yesterday. Manager Davey Johnson said the outfielder's stomach still is tight, but he no longer felt any sharp pain.
Hammonds, the only Oriole to start at all three outfield positions, will hit some soft tosses today, and try live batting practice either today or tomorrow. If he doesn't report any discomfort, he could be ready to play by Thursday or Friday.
A twinge for Coppinger
Rocky Coppinger felt a little twinge in his right elbow during Sunday's start against Oakland, but Johnson said it isn't serious.
"We'll probably have the doctor look at him. They just have to stay on top of it, treatment-wise. He should be fine," Johnson said.