So, can Molitor fight city hall? O's enlist Schmoke in pursuit of free agent

December 05, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The Orioles aren't just throwing money at Paul Molitor. They're throwing Schmoke at him, too.

At the invitation of general manager Pat Gillick and owner Peter Angelos, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has joined a campaign to bring the free-agent designated hitter to Baltimore. Gillick's idea may have been an inspired one, but it apparently wasn't an original one. Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman also made an appeal for Molitor to rejoin the Blue Jays. Molitor left Toronto in 1995 for the Minnesota Twins.

After an unsuccessful attempt at setting up a conference call among Molitor, Schmoke and himself, Angelos said, the owner spoke with Molitor yesterday afternoon. Schmoke followed up by leaving a message.

"I just said that we wanted him to come to Baltimore," Angelos said. "I told him we've always admired him, liked him, and want him as part of our team. If he wasn't going to remain [in Minnesota], I told him he ought to come to Baltimore."

Molitor is torn between Toronto and Baltimore, according to his agent, Ron Simon. Gillick and Simon met in Minneapolis earlier this week. Molitor, meanwhile, is attending a celebrity golf tournament in Monterey, Calif., and isn't expected to return to his Minneapolis home until Sunday. Simon and Molitor will meet then and review the situation a final time. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both believed to have offered Molitor a one-year contract with an option attached for 1999.

Meanwhile, Angelos and Schmoke might do better to persuade Molitor's wife.

Linda Molitor said earlier this week that returning to Toronto would be much easier than moving to Baltimore. Molitor remains a popular figure in Toronto, so much so that he was offered the chance to succeed Cito Gaston as Blue Jays manager last month. Molitor spurned the offer, and the club named Tim Johnson to the post.

The Twins still loom as a third alternative. The Anaheim Angels expressed interest in Molitor, but are no longer believed serious challengers.

"I'll probably change my mind eight more times over that period like I have the past few days. I spoke with the three teams involved and asked if they minded if I waited until I got home to decide. They had no problem with that," Molitor said.

Said Simon: "If you just don't know what you're going to do, then my advice is it's better to wait a day or two. There's absolutely no need to rush into something. It's true they can go back to Toronto and be comfortable there. Sure, it's a factor. But I don't think it's a conclusive factor."

Simon added that the Orioles enjoy the advantages of a winning club as well as Molitor's admiration for Gillick.

"They've got the best team. Therefore, when the dust settles, Baltimore will end up with the odds of doing much better than Toronto and Minnesota," Simon said.

Simon added, however, that his client is concerned about what direction the Orioles may take given the recent resignation of manager Davey Johnson and the defection of closer Randy Myers to the Blue Jays. Molitor is also keenly interested in whether the club can re-sign free-agent center fielder Brady Anderson. (Anderson and Angelos spoke briefly yesterday, but apparently won't meet again until this weekend at the earliest.)

With Sunday's arbitration deadline approaching, the Orioles must decide whether to offer salary arbitration to platoon designated hitter Harold Baines. By signing this weekend, Molitor would allow the Orioles to abstain from offering arbitration to Baines.

Pub Date: 12/05/97

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