TORONTO -- Juan Guzman, once the Orioles' projected No. 3 starter for 1999, is demanding that the club negotiate a contract extension for him or he will exercise his right to ask for a trade before next season.
Guzman possesses such leverage because he was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays during a multi-year contract. Under the Basic Agreement, any player dealt under such circumstances can demand a trade at the end of the first season with his new club.
Guzman's agent, Tony Attanasio, has approached the Orioles about a three-year extension but has been received coolly.
Guzman, who will turn 32 in October, underwent shoulder surgery to remove bone spurs and repair a slightly torn labrum after last season. Based on medical reports, the Orioles consider him a long-term health question.
The Orioles are determined to solidify their starting rotation before next season. If they reject negotiations with Guzman, they could use his projected salary to plumb the free-agent market for Al Leiter and/or Kevin Brown.
Hopeful of injecting themselves into the wild-card race, the Orioles acquired Guzman from the Blue Jays on July 31 for right-handed pitcher Nerio Rodriguez and outfield prospect Shannon Stewart. However, their recent elimination exposes a potentially thorny issue. While Guzman's option vested automatically for 1999, it is superseded by the out clause, leaving the Orioles to ponder how to address a pitcher with a complicated medical history.
Guzman indicated yesterday he will exercise his leverage if necessary. "I like Baltimore. It's a first-class organization," said Guzman, 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA in 10 starts with the Orioles. "But I don't want to be there for just a year. If I'm going to be there, I want it to be for at least three or four. That way I can be settled and not worry about going someplace else. I can be comfortable."
Guzman will make his first start against the Blue Jays tonight since the trade, opposing young right-hander Kelvim Escobar.
What kind of reception will he get?
"I don't know, but it's going to feel weird," Guzman said. "I'm going to go out and do my job no matter how I feel, but it'll be weird coming out of a different dugout."
Guzman visited the Blue Jays' clubhouse Monday and saw that Rodriguez had his old locker.
Alomar open on options
Though often a target of Sky-Dome fans since he left Toronto, second baseman Roberto Alomar has been signing autographs here before games, standing at the railing near the visitor's dugout with his cap turned backward and a pen in hand.
Alomar wanted out of Toronto after the 1995 season because he believed the club had gone into a rebuilding mode. But the Blue Jays have posed a surprising challenge for the wild card and changed his perception of the organization.
Would he be willing to return to Toronto if not re-signed by the Orioles after this season?
"My options are going to be open if I go on the market," he told the Toronto Sun. "I'll have to see what Baltimore has to say. I'm still under contract now, but I always had fun in Toronto. It was good to me. There were some great times and I can't forget that." Working on an accelerated pace, the Orioles have begun the first round of interviews to fill their pending general manager vacancy. Vice chairman Joe Foss apparently will meet with the four leading candidates -- Marlins assistant general manager Frank Wren, Atlanta Braves assistant general manager Dean Taylor, Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden and Cleveland Indians assistant general manager Dan O'Dowd -- by week's end.
The process will then enter its secondary phase with finalists interviewing with majority owner Peter Angelos and manager Ray Miller.
Dee Santarone killed
Dee Santarone, wife of former Orioles head groundskeeper Pat Santarone, was killed along with another couple in a traffic accident Thursday night about 15 miles from their home in Hamilton, Mont. Pat suffered a broken leg that required surgery Monday, and he'll remain in Marcus Daly Hospital in Hamilton for several weeks.
The accident occurred when the utility vehicle in which the Santarones were passengers collided with a dump truck on U.S. 93 north of Darby, Mont.
Around the horn
Miller has chosen rookie Chris Fussell to start Friday's game in FTC Boston. Scott Erickson and Mike Mussina will close out the season's final series. Fussell has made one other start this year, allowing three runs in five innings against Texas on Sept. 15. Two of the runs scored after he left. B. J. Surhoff wasn't in the starting lineup despite Toronto starting a right-hander, Chris Carpenter. "He's had a heck of a year for us, but he's been dragging the last couple of weeks," Miller said. The Hall of Fame has requested the shoes Ryan Minor wore the night he replaced Cal Ripken at third.
Pub Date: 9/23/98