Jeff Robinson, the pitcher acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in the trade for Mickey Tettleton last winter, has been placed on irrevocable waivers for the purpose of giving him his release.
That was the major outgrowth of yesterday's reshuffling, which involved eight players and brought the roster to 39, one short of the limit required by Nov. 20.
"I told Jeff we felt with all the moves, it might be better for him to become a free agent right now," said general manager Roland Hemond. "We have to stay within limits."
Robinson started the 1991 season in the rotation, but won only one game in his last 11 starts and was optioned to the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings on July 30 in the pitching shake-up that brought Mike Mussina to the majors.
Robinson was 4-9 with a 5.18 ERA for the Orioles and failed to finish the fifth inning eight times in 19 starts. Robinson blasted the club for the demotion, then went 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA in eight games for the Red Wings and did not pitch after Aug. 21 because of a hip injury.
Hemond denied the release had anything to do with Robinson's attitude. "I don't want to be knocking him in any way," he said. "It came down to a decision based on performance."
Also released was left-hander Brian DuBois, who sat out last season while trying to recover from Tommy John-type elbow surgery.
"He had a second operation on his elbow last week, a relapse," said Hemond.
DuBois came up through the Orioles system but pitched in the majors only with the Detroit Tigers, to whom he was traded in the Keith Moreland deal in 1989. He has compiled a 3-9 career record.
The Orioles also signed two minor-league free agents who played last season with Boston's Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, hoping to catch more lightning as they did with Todd Frohwirth and Chito Martinez last season.
Eric Hetzel, who has pitched briefly in the majors, was placed on the big-league roster and catcher Todd Pratt was assigned to Rochester.
Hetzel, 28, was 5-0 with a 2.80 ERA in his last seven games for Pawtucket. Although the right-hander wasn't a teammate of Ben McDonald's, he attended Louisiana State, where Tom Brown, the Orioles' roving minor-league instructor, was his pitching coach.
Pratt, 24, had 11 homers and 41 RBI in only 219 at-bats at Pawtucket. He hit .292.
The Orioles protected five players from the Rule V draft, which is conducted at next month's winter meetings. Included were highly rated shortstops Ricky Gutierrez and Manny Alexander.
Alexander, 20, was voted the Class A Carolina League's most exciting player by Baseball America after making the All-Star team, leading the league with 143 hits and tying for the league lead by scoring 81 runs.
The native of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, the hotbed of shortstops, also topped the league with a .951 fielding percentage for the Frederick Keys.
Gutierrez, 21, hit better at Rochester (.306 in 49 games) than with the Class AA Hagerstown Suns (.236). He was successful on 15 of 16 steal attempts.
Also protected were pitchers Richie Lewis, Mike Oquist and Brad Pennington.
Lewis was obtained from the Montreal Expos system for Chris Myers late last season and struck out 18 in 16 innings with the Red Wings. Oquist was 10-9 with a team-high 166 1/3 innings at Hagerstown.
Pennington, the only left-hander in the group, struck out 43 in 23 innings for Class A Kane County (Ill.) Cougars and 58 in 43 2/3 innings for Frederick. He led the Keys with 13 saves.