DETROIT -- Relief pitcher Mike Flanagan said yesterday that he is not ready to retire and has notified the team of his desire to return to the Orioles bullpen next season.
Flanagan's agent, Bob Teaff, apparently contacted the front office earlier this week to relay that message to club officials, who must decide soon after the World Series whether to exercise their contract option to retain Flanagan for the 1993 season.
"There are times when people quit not because of a loss of talent but because of a loss of desire," Flanagan said yesterday. "I wanted to let them know that I have not lost my desire to play. If the radar gun said 78 [mph], you wouldn't have to tell me twice, but tome, the problems I've had have been a matter of control."
They also have been a matter of perception. Flanagan's ERA is a deceptive 8.05. The bulk of the runs was scored in four appearances. He surrendered 21 runs over 2 1/3 innings in those four games -- the most infamous an eight-run inning against Detroit the first time the Orioles visited Tiger Stadium this year.
His other 38 appearances have been far more representative and respectable: 10 earned runs in 32 1/3 innings for a 2.78 ERA.
"It was three or four bad games," Flanagan said. "That's what I try to focus on. But they did happen. You have to accept that. I know if I come back, I will do a lot of things differently."
Flanagan returned to the Orioles in 1991 and was outstanding in his first full year as a relief pitcher. His role was modified again this year, but he did not adjust as well to his new job as the left-handed set-up man.
"Last year was a very satisfying year for me," he said, "and I don't think I've had a more frustrating year than this year. I've pitched about 30 innings. That's what I threw in spring training last year.
"I think I misinterpreted the one left-hander in the bullpen situation. Ithink I understand it a lot better now."
Manager Johnny Oates won't say whether he wants Flanagan back, but only because he has chosen not to comment on the future of any player until after the club holds its postseason organizational meetings Monday and Tuesday.
"I think overall he's thrown the ball decently," Oates said. "He just hasn't been able to get a frame of consistency."
It seems unlikely the club will exercise the option on Flanagan's contract, but not necessarily because they don't want him back. The team might be more inclined to pass up the option and invite Flanagan to spring training to compete for a job.
If that were to happen, Flanagan would become a free agent and could go elsewhere, but he would not speculate on the options that might confront him at that point.
"I haven't gotten that far into it," he said. "The focus lately has been on 'How can I help here?' Now the time has come to look back on what happened and get ready to deal with the future.
"I think they [the Orioles] know what they get with me and there is a comfort factor there. They might get to me later than some other people, but they know how I would fit in."