Mickey Tettleton will be a Baltimore Oriole in 1991.
After an 11th-hour attempt to make a deal with another team, Tettleton's agent, Tony Attanasio, said last night that his client will accept the Orioles' offer of salary arbitration.
"We finally gave up," Attanasio said from his San Diego office. "We were working feverishly with two clubs, and we came very close. But at the last minute, we just decided we'll go back to Baltimore and do what we have to do."
What they have to do now is continue to negotiate with the Orioles until an arbitrator decides the salary Tettleton will play for next season.
That is, unless the two sides can come to an agreement before Tettleton's arbitration hearing is scheduled in February. If not, both will submit salary figures to the arbitrator, who decides which figure will be paid. There is no compromise at that point.
On the open market, Tettleton was seeking a package similar to that received by Darren Daulton to return to the Philadelphia Phillies, a three-year deal worth $6.75 million.
Tettleton batted .223 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI last season; Daulton hit .268 with 12 homers and 57 RBI.
Tettleton, 30, wanted a three-year commitment from the Orioles, but was offered $1.3 million for one year in the postseason round of negotiations.
"This was somewhat discouraging," said Attanasio. "Mickey and I both felt it would be nice to have a long-term deal, but nobody is embarrassed about going back to Baltimore."
Tettleton could not be reached by phone yesterday after he left his Arizona winter home for Oklahoma for the holidays.
"Mickey's mood is that if this is the way it is, this is the way it is," said his agent. "He'll go back to Baltimore, put up some numbers and try again next year. It just wasn't in the cards this time."
Tettleton, a switch hitter who hit 26 homers in 1989, will be eligible for free agency again after 1991.
After negotiating a number of player contracts yesterday, Attanasio would not speculate on whether the matSee ORIOLES, 6C, Col. 5ORIOLES, from 1Cter would reach a hearing.
"We just made up our minds about this and we'll take it one step at a time," he said. "The interesting thing now is what they'll do. I know they're not going to be enamored with the idea of going to the table. I can't see they'll be amenable to that."
The Orioles were informed long after their offices closed for business. Attanasio told the Major League Baseball Players Association of the decision just before 8 p.m.
General manager Roland Hemond is in Mexico for the holidays, but assistant GM Doug Melvin said last night that the Orioles' answer "is just to go to the next step. It's all part of the process.
"We'll negotiate and try to agree or go to arbitration. As of now, Mickey is a signed player."
Tettleton walked 106 times last season, second most in the American League, but set a club record for strikeouts, 160.
* Melvin said earlier that the Orioles have conferred with the Houston Astros about a possible trade for power-hitting first baseman Glenn Davis.
The Evening Sun reported yesterday that the Orioles and the Chicago Cubs are the apparent front-runners to acquire Davis, with the Astros expressing interest in several Orioles -- among them first baseman Randy Milligan, pitchers Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling, outfielder Steve Finley and minor-league pitcher Arthur Rhodes.
"But nobody is going to get caught off guard on that in the next couple of weeks. We talked to a number of clubs as a follow-up to the [winter] meetings, and Houston was one of them," Melvin said. "They know we're looking for a guy who can knock in 900 runs, but nothing is imminent."
Davis, 29, who can become a free agent after the 1991 season, hit 22 home runs last season in 327 at-bats and hit 34 in 581 at-bats in 1989.