Calling it "one of the greatest days of my life," former Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar signed a four-year contract yesterday with the Cleveland Indians, giving the club a current or former All-Star at every position and pushing it further ahead of dTC the other teams in the American League Central.
The deal is worth $32 million and reunites Alomar with his brother, Sandy, the Indians' catcher.
"It's real special because I have good family values," said Alomar, who spent three seasons with the Orioles. "To me, family comes first. And being here, I'm going to have the chance to spend more time with my nephew and niece. I can bring my mom here and my dad, and they can watch both of their sons play baseball on the same field. It's like a dream come true for us."
His father could become more prominent in the dream. Sandy Alomar Sr. is among the candidates for the first-base coaching job in Cleveland along with Roy White, Mike Felder and Clarence Jones, who was relieved of his duties as Atlanta's hitting coach after the season.
The Orioles never extended an offer to Alomar, who posted his lowest batting average (.282) since his rookie season in 1988 and had a strained relationship with the club's last two managers, Davey Johnson and Ray Miller.
"When I was in the uniform of the Baltimore Orioles, I did want to sign with Baltimore. I didn't want to go on the market," said Alomar, a nine-time All-Star. "We didn't get negotiations going. They told me they wanted to take a different direction. I respect their decision and I hope they respect mine. I had great moments in Baltimore. The fans were good to me during the good times and the bad times. All I can say about Baltimore is positive stuff. It was a lot of fun. But they want to take a different direction, so I have to take a different direction, too.
"It's real sad to leave Baltimore. I was talking to Eric Davis the other day and I know he was real sad to leave Baltimore, too. But now we have to move on."
Alomar's agent, Jaime Torres, said he last spoke to Orioles general manager Frank Wren shortly after Alomar filed for free agency. "They said they might be interested in pursuing Robbie again, but it was not priority No. 1 and they felt Robbie probably wasn't interested in returning to Baltimore. And I told them that was not so and in my opinion Robbie would still consider Baltimore. But realistically, I think we all knew Cleveland was Robbie's first choice and money was not going to be the deciding factor."
Sandy Alomar Sr. said his son didn't enjoy playing as much this season as the Orioles sank to a fourth-place finish in the AL East. "He wasn't having fun in the same way he normally has. I was there for a couple games and I saw they were not having fun, and I'm talking about the whole ballclub. It was a ballclub that was losing and seemed to be frustrated. It's kind of hard to be on a ballclub like that.
"Robbie loved Baltimore and loved the fans and would have loved to stay there, but then he saw the chance to play with his brother and it seems like it brings the joy back to him."
Pub Date: 11/25/98