Searcy, 2 others signed to add to pitching depth
The Orioles continued their search for pitching depth yesterday, signing left-hander Steve Searcy to a minor-league contract and inviting him to spring training to compete for a place on the major-league staff.
Searcy, 28, once was one of the top prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization. He was named International League Pitcher the Year in 1988, but was released after four unsuccessful attempts to establish himself in the majors. He has pitched since in the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations, but has just 10 1/3 big-league innings.
In Triple-A stints with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Albuquerque last season, he was 3-8 with a 5.55 ERA.
The Orioles also signed right-handed pitchers Mike Cook and David Walters to minor-league contracts.
Earlier this week, the Orioles added journeyman left-hander Jamie Moyer to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings roster. He also was invited to major-league camp.
"We're just looking for a little more depth to take to camp," assistant general manager Doug Melvin said. "We're going to be looking for a fifth starter, and we also want to make sure we have enough pitching at the Triple-A level, since we lost Kip Yaughn and Richie Lewis in the expansion draft."
Though Searcy and Moyer have spent significant time in the majors, they appear to be long shots to make the club. But, during the past couple of seasons, club officials have been able to strengthen the team with minor-league free agents such as Todd Frohwirth, Chito Martinez and Mark McLemore.
"Searcy gives us a little bit of big-league experience," Melvin said, "and he has displayed a good arm in the past."
Cook, 29, has played for the California Angels and Minnesota Twins. He pitched last season for the St. Louis Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, Ky., going 3-2 with a 4.60 ERA in 43 games, all in relief.
Walters, 29, pitched for the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A team in Pawtucket, R.I., going 4-2 with a 5.28 ERA in 38 games, 37 in relief.
The Orioles also added third baseman Scott Coolbaugh earlier this week as insurance against the possibility that Leo Gomez is not 100 percent. Gomez is rehabilitating a loose shoulder capsule at home in Puerto Rico.
The deadline to tender contracts is tomorrow, but the Orioles might announce today who will be mailed contracts for the 1993 season. The decision to tender a contract is just a formality -- and signals the beginning of contract negotiations for players who were not eligible for free agency.
The date is newsworthy because there has been speculation that many major-league players would be released so clubs can circumvent the maximum-cut provision of baseball's Basic Agreement and avoid salary arbitration with highly paid fringe players.
It seems likely that the Orioles will release right-hander Bob Milacki, for instance, then try to re-sign him for substantially less than the $1.18 million he won in arbitration last year. There is some question regarding first baseman Randy Milligan also, but the club might not be in a position to risk losing him until it can be certain that Glenn Davis will be able to play regularly in the field.
Attorney Ron Shapiro said yesterday that he has talked to two clubs about released Oriole Bill Ripken since the second baseman cleared waivers on Wednesday.
"There were two expressions of interest," Shapiro said, "but I couldn't define them as offers or definite opportunities. We're going to be pro-active on this. We'll be contacting a lot of clubs. You don't want to miss an opportunity."
Outfielder Joe Orsulak, who hasn't been offered arbitration by the Orioles, could be close to signing with another club.
"We're in the specific offer stage with two clubs, and things are on-going," Shapiro said.
Shapiro declined to name the clubs, but speculation has centered on the New York Yankees and Montreal Expos.