O's close to signing Mussina


The Orioles are close to signing pitcher Mike Mussina to a multi-year contract, and the deal could be completed as soon as tomorrow.

The Orioles had offered Mussina a three-year deal for about $10 million, plus an option for a fourth year, but they've shifted their focus to a two-year contract worth in the range of $7 million.

Mussina is eligible for arbitration and his case is scheduled to be heard June 22. The Orioles, whose arbitration loss to Ben McDonald cost the club about $1.3 million earlier this week, filed a figure of $2.5 million for the arbitration case. Mussina has asked for $3.35 million.

Role playing

Orioles manager Phil Regan met with the relievers yesterday in a follow-up to the addition of Terry Clark and Mark Lee, and told them what their roles will be.

For instance, Doug Jones will remain the closer and Clark will be a setup man.

"Pitchers today," Regan said, "want to know their roles."

Pennington trade talk

At least three teams -- the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and the Florida Marlins -- have expressed interest in left-hander Brad Pennington, who was designated for assignment Thursday.

The Orioles are swapping trade possibilities, and general manager Roland Hemond acknowledged that a trade could be completed in the next few days.

Roster move due

Center fielder Andy Van Slyke, on the disabled list because of a strained forearm muscle, will be eligible to be activated for Friday's game in Detroit, and the Orioles will have to clear a spot on the roster for him.

Among the possibilities: Demote catcher Cesar Devarez; demote a pitcher (Scott Klingenbeck?) and keep 15 positions players and 10 pitchers; release one of the veterans who is sitting on the bench, such as Matt Nokes or Leo Gomez.

Another possibility, now that Curtis Goodwin seems entrenched

in center field, is releasing Van Slyke, but the Orioles appear to have no intention of doing that at this time.

Around the horn

Outfielder Jim Wawruck cleared waivers and was outrighted off the Orioles' 40-man roster yesterday. The Orioles now have 39 players on their 40-man roster. . . . Regan, making reference to Pennington yesterday: "Some guys should just be happy to be here. I'm happy to be here, I know that." . . . Armando Benitez arrived in Rochester yesterday, and was in uniform for the Red Wings' game last night. . . . The family of No. 1 pick Alvie Shepherd presented the Orioles with a counter-offer for the pitcher's signing bonus late Thursday night. Negotiations could wrap up sometime next week, with Shepherd expected to sign for a bonus in the range of $500,000 to $600,000. . . . The Orioles signed two more draft picks: No. 14 pick Christopher Bryant, a third baseman from North Carolina Wesleyan College, and the 30th pick, Christopher Bray, a right-handed pitcher from Mount Olive (N.C.) College. . . . Shortstop Cal Ripken is one of four AL players with more than 100 at-bats who haven't hit into a double play in 1995. The others: Oakland's Ruben Sierra, Benji Gil of the Texas Rangers, and California's Tony Phillips. . . . Kevin Bass is suffering from a slight groin-muscle pull. . . . Pro golfer Tom Kite, who is playing at the Kemper Open in Potomac this week, was in the Orioles' clubhouse yesterday, talking with right-hander Kevin Brown. . . . The Orioles were the title sponsor of the Baltimore Zoo's "Zoomerang" fund-raiser last night, and donated $25,000.


On the field: More than three hours before last night's game, rookie Curtis Goodwin was on the field practicing his bunting. It's because of that ability that California third baseman Spike Owen was drawn in on Goodwin in the second inning. Goodwin swung away and hit a shot off Owen's glove that ricocheted into foul territory, for a double.

In the dugout: Orioles manager Phil Regan may have found a lineup he likes: Brady Anderson leading off, Jeffrey Hammonds batting second, Manny Alexander hitting eighth and Curtis Goodwin ninth. In this way,

Regan breaks up the trio of left-handed hitters he had at the top of the order before, when Goodwin led off, Anderson hit second and Rafael Palmeiro third. Regan likes having speed at the top and bottom of the order.

bTC In the clubhouse: Jeff Manto has spent the majority of his career in the minor leagues. Perhaps, he said, other minor-leaguers could take heart in his success: "Maybe another minor-leaguer will say, 'If Manto can do it, I can do it.' "

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