Tettleton weighed bid from Orioles

THE BALTIMORE SUN

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles were in the running for Mickey Tettleton before the designated hitter/catcher/outfielder signed with the Texas Rangers yesterday.

According to Tettleton's agent, Tony Attanasio, the Orioles' offer was almost identical to the Rangers'. Tettleton, who hit .248 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs for Detroit last year, signed a one-year deal for a base salary of $550,000, plus about $500,000 in reachable incentives. To achieve the extras, he must reach 200 plate appearances and 100 games.

But the $1.05 million total still means that Tettleton will take a massive cut from his salary of $1,833,333.

"There were three offers," Attanasio said. "Oakland, Texas and Baltimore. All were within a stone's throw of each other. Mickey has to take [a big cut] for whatever reason, and if that's the case, he's going to play close to home, put up the numbers and let what happens happen."

Texas general manager Doug Melvin is the one who signed Tettleton to a Triple-A contract with Rochester in 1988, when Melvin worked for the Orioles. "Doug was the one who gave me my second chance," Tettleton said, "and you tend not to forget those things."

It's unclear exactly what the Orioles would've done with Tettleton. They may have used him as an extra outfielder, or as a third catcher or to be the DH against left-handers.

McDonald's elbow tender

There's nothing seriously wrong with Ben McDonald's sore right elbow, he says. Nevertheless, he is being cautious.

During pitchers' fielding practice yesterday, McDonald would hustle to field the ball and reach down with his glove. But when it came time to make the throw, he would merely feint. Then he would underhand the ball back to a coach or teammate; can't be too careful.

McDonald had the same problem last year -- a strained right triceps tendon. "I could pitch through it," he said, "but this is spring training. If I have to miss a start, I don't think I'll be that far behind."

Orioles manager Phil Regan said he thinks McDonald will be ready to go when the regular season begins. As it stands now, McDonald likely will pitch the third game of the season, April 28 in Minnesota.

Outfield search

Regan reiterated his desire to add another veteran outfielder to the roster. "He doesn't necessarily have to be a great defensive outfielder," Regan said, "but I want somebody who can hit and drive in some runs.

"I've got someone in mind, but I'm not going to say who it is," Regan said.

It might be free agent Andy Van Slyke, whose negotiations with the Orioles have stalled. He wants $1.5 million; the O's offered $1 million but have taken that off the table for now as they take a look at their own young outfielders in exhibitions.

Another veteran the Orioles may take a look at is switch-hitter Kevin Bass, who batted .310 for Houston last year.

At age 35, he's experienced at coming off the bench and can play both right and left field. Bass probably is beyond the point in his career where he could be a regular, but he could fill in for four or five days at a time and offer solid at-bats.

The price is right, too -- Bass earned $400,000 a year ago, and in today's market he'd probably take a cut.

Around the horn

Arthur Rhodes, who starts the Orioles' first exhibition game today against Texas and Kenny Rogers, is further ahead than some of his counterparts on the pitching staff, and Mike Mussina is a little behind. "I think [Mussina] has been throwing [in the off-season]," said Regan, "but not as much as he could have been throwing." . . . Five other pitchers will join Rhodes in Port Charlotte to pitch against Texas: Scott Klingenbeck, Alan Mills, Jamie Moyer, William Percibal and Mike Oquist. For now, they will be limited to two innings apiece. . . . Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, being given time to rehabilitate his right knee, and catcher Matt Nokes, who has some stiffness in his knee, will remain behind and work out. Hammonds might not play in an exhibition until Monday or Tuesday, according to Regan. . . . After each workout thus far, shortstop Cal Ripken has stayed behind and signed every ball, bat and picture being thrust toward him. . . . Mussina, one of the five arbitration-eligible Orioles, says his agent hasn't had any talks about a long-term contract. . . . Scott Boros, the agent for McDonald, says he expects to talk to the Orioles at the end of this week or early next week. "I don't know whether we'll talk about a one-year deal or multi-year deal, but we're all ears." . . . Every team will start the season with 28 players, rather than 25. Regan figures to use two of the three extra spots for pitchers. His Opening Day roster likely will be made up of 13 pitchers and 15 position players. . . . Infielder Jeff Huson, playing for Triple-A Rochester, could make the Orioles as a utility player, but on Tuesday night he pulled a stomach muscle and will be out for three or four days. . . . Center fielder Curtis Goodwin has done well in the first few days of camp, but the coaching staff wants him to hit the cutoff man more consistently.

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