Webster stays, gets $665,000 deal Catcher considered $800,000 Rockies offer

November 25, 1997|By Roch Kubatko and Joe Strauss | Roch Kubatko and Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The Orioles retained one of their best bargains yesterday by re-signing backup catcher Lenny Webster to a $665,000 contract plus an option for the 1999 season.

"It's a first-class organization. I've received a lot of positive feedback since the season ended. It's a place I know I want to be," he said.

Webster had sought a two-year deal but is satisfied with an attainable rollover that would bring him back in 1999. Webster's option automatically vests after 70 appearances. His 1999 base salary would be $685,000 plus any incentives -- based on plate appearances -- earned next season.

Webster, who will be 33 next season, made a career-high 98 appearances last season, hitting .255 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 259 at-bats, the first time in six full major-league seasons he had received 175 or more at-bats. His .995 fielding average ranked second among American League catchers. Webster made 23 starts while starter Chris Hoiles was disabled from June 17-July 18.

If not for the rapid naming of Ray Miller to succeed Davey #F Johnson as manager, Webster may have signed with the Colorado Rockies, who had offered $800,000, though without an option.

"I enjoyed playing for Davey," Webster said. "Upon hearing that he had resigned, I took it kind of tough. But once they named Ray, he called me 20 minutes later and let me know he wanted me back."

Webster had arthroscopic surgery in Birmingham, Ala., on Nov. 12 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder -- the same injury that afflicted second baseman Roberto Alomar. Dr. James Andrews sutured tears on the top and bottom of the labrum and reattached it to his shoulder with a plastic screw. Webster has begun rehabilitating and expects to be ready for spring training. The injury occurred Aug. 19.

Pub Date: 11/25/97

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