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Arbitration win OK with McDonald


Pitcher Ben McDonald won his arbitration case with the Orioles yesterday, when independent arbitrator Pat Hardin ruled that his request of $4.5 million was more in line with his market value than the Orioles' offer of $3.2 million.

"I'm excited about it and glad it turned out the way it did," said McDonald. "But like I said [Monday night], this doesn't change my feelings because it could've been handled in a different way."

In other words, he's not happy that there were no negotiations for a settlement. McDonald said he believes he probably would've accepted an offer halfway between the two sides, or about $3.85 million.

"I guess they felt like they had a case they could win," said McDonald, who was 14-7 with a 4.06 ERA last season. "I had nothing to lose by going to arbitration . . . because they weren't making any offers."

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said that the team made a compromise offer in the past few days. "We had increased our initial offer," Hemond said, "but it wasn't agreed upon. So we felt comfortable with what we submitted."

McDonald was asked if he was worried the decision would affect his relationship with the Orioles. "No," he said. "They weren't willing to negotiate the whole time. That's not my fault. That's the stance they took . . . the hard-line stance.

"If [a midpoint offer] had been offered, it could've been done. Everybody would've been happy. For them to drag it out during the season was tough."

Hemond said: "We always prefer not to go to arbitration, but we respect Ben and it doesn't change our high regard for him."

McDonald attended the arbitration hearing Monday morning, and pitched and lost against Randy Johnson on Monday night.

"Win or lose, I'm glad it's over," McDonald said. "It's was definitely one of the worst days of my life."

Shepherd talks progressing

The Orioles made their first offer to No. 1 pick Alvie Shepherd on Monday night, and both sides are sure that a deal is imminent.

"We didn't reach an agreement," said Shepherd's father, Alvie Sr., who would not say what the Orioles' offer is. "But we talked and it was a good talk. I'm sure we'll work out an agreement.

"I wouldn't say we're far apart, and I wouldn't say we're close. I'd say we're just negotiating -- we're getting a feel for things. We'll work a deal out, no problem. They're fair, and we're fair people, so we'll get something worked out."

Alvie Shepherd Sr. said that the family would give a counteroffer to the Orioles in the next day or two. The No. 1 pick, a pitcher, could return to the University of Nebraska for his senior year, but he seems intent on joining the Orioles.

Fernandez hurting . . .

Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez has a sore left collarbone, and manager Phil Regan said if Fernandez's condition isn't better today, they would have him start Saturday instead of Friday, and use McDonald on three days rest Friday.

If Fernandez's injury is serious enough to sideline him -- the results from an afternoon magnetic resonance imaging scan were not available last night -- the Orioles could call up left-hander Arthur Rhodes from Triple-A Rochester. Rhodes pitched Monday night, and could get his regular complement of four days rest and throw Saturday.

. . . and so is Buhner

Seattle right fielder Jay Buhner, whose home run beat the Orioles Monday, sat out last night.

A tight left hamstring that's plagued him for two weeks was so painful that Buhner had to take him self out of the game late Monday.

"If there'd been a fly ball toward the line in right field, I couldn't have gotten to it," Buhner said.

He is expected to miss at least four or five games and the Mariners fear their cleanup hitter could be headed to the disabled list.

Bumbry lays down bunt advice

Orioles first base coach Al Bumbry acknowledged that he was somewhat surprised that rookie Curtis Goodwin, who struck out four times against Johnson Monday night, didn't attempt to bunt. Bumbry, who also was a left-handed-hitting speedster during his playing days, relayed his own experience to Goodwin.

"When I faced a pitcher I had struck out three times against, I'd be damned if I was going to strike out four times," Bumbry said.

Bumbry also empathized with a rookie in his fourth day in the big leagues facing Johnson.

"You don't want to keep blowing Randy Johnson's horn," said Bumbry, "but the fact of the matter is he's one of the premier left-handers."

Around the horn

Curtis Baines, the brother of Orioles designated hitter Harold Baines and a student at St. Michael's High School, will be honored with other high school baseball all-stars today at the Camden Club. . . . Stan Saunders of WJZ-TV will continue to fill in for Rex Barney, the Orioles' public address announcer who is home after suffering a mild heart attack. Saunders will work the rest of the homestand except for tomorrow's game, when WBAL Radio's Josh Lewin takes over.

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