Mystery team blocked Bonilla, Wells waivers Yankees suspected; sources say O's trying to pass Anderson through


Orioles owner Peter Angelos decided against trading pitcher David Wells and outfielder Bobby Bonilla before the July 31 trading deadline. Now they can't trade them even if they so desired.

According to a league source, the Orioles attempted to pass Wells and Bonilla through waivers earlier this month, and if they had cleared, the Orioles could've traded them. But somebody else -- it's not known which team or teams -- claimed the two, and the Orioles pulled Bonilla and Wells back off waivers.

The New York Yankees are a primary suspect, having aggressively claimed players earlier this month to prevent them from being traded, Minnesota's Chuck Knoblauch and St. Louis left-hander Tony Fossas among them. Cincinnati GM Jim Bowden also is renowned for placing claims on players.

Teams typically place large groups of their players on waivers in August, some for trade purposes, some to camouflage other potential moves. For example, the Atlanta Braves could pass pitcher Greg Maddux through waivers, with obviously no intention of letting him go, as part of a group that would include another player the Braves intend to trade.

The Orioles, according to two sources, have passed through players in smaller groups than the allowable seven at a time. On Monday, they placed outfielder Brady Anderson in a group of three players, the other two being outfielder Brent Bowers and pitcher Nerio Rodriguez, and should find out tomorrow if Anderson and the others cleared.

The Orioles, in all likelihood, have no interest in trading Anderson, who has a $4 million option for next year and is in the final six weeks of a monster season. Orioles assistant GM Kevin Malone would not confirm or deny or comment on any waiver scenario.

If the Orioles intend to explore the possibility of trading Anderson, they would have to deal with a confusing contractual situation. Anderson has a limited no-trade clause for 1996 that gives him the right to pick eight teams to which he cannot be traded. According to his contract, Anderson was required to provide that list to the Orioles in November 1995. No list was given to the Orioles.

If the Orioles intend to dangle Anderson, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs would be among those teams with compelling reasons for interest.

There are several forms of waivers:

Outright waivers, like those the Orioles asked on Chris Hoiles in June; a player can clear those, as Hoiles did, and remain with the team.

Irrevocable waivers; a player that clears irrevocable waivers without being claimed is released.

Major-league waivers, like those asked for on Anderson, Bonilla and Wells, which are required if a player is to be included in a deal after the July 31 deadline. For instance, if the Orioles wanted to deal Bonilla, they would have to pass him through waivers. If another team claimed him, the Orioles can pull him back and keep him from getting taken -- as they did.

Rocky running road

Pitcher Rocky Coppinger flopped into the chair in front of his locker, his face red from 25 minutes on the treadmill. Coppinger, who weighs in the neighborhood of 250-260 pounds, intends to run in a 3.1-mile charity race held by strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop on Saturday.

"At some point," Coppinger predicted, "I will lead the race."

Wells said: "He's going to sprint the first 100 yards. He'll lead it then."

Beyond that?

"My goal," Coppinger said, "is to not be last. . . . I can run 2 1/2 miles, and then I about die."

Benitez nearing return

Armando Benitez is scheduled to pitch two innings for Triple-A Rochester tonight and manager Davey Johnson said he hopes to have the reliever back in Baltimore this weekend.

Benitez has not pitched with the Orioles since May, when he developed elbow problems. He recently made a rehab appearance at rookie-level Sarasota and two outings at Double-A Bowie.

Johnson said if all goes well tonight, Benitez would pitch again Friday in Rochester and then join the Orioles. Benitez visited the Orioles clubhouse shortly yesterday and talked with Johnson.

"I just don't want to rush him and have him come up here in a tough situation and try to overthrow his slider," Johnson said. "He looks strong as a bull. Hopefully, by the weekend he'll be back. I could use him."

Added pitching coach Pat Dobson, who watched him Monday with GM Pat Gillick: "His arm seems to be fine."

More injury report

Roger McDowell underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday and will miss the rest of the season. "Apparently, the surgery went well," Dobson said. "Only time will tell." . . . Johnson said he's not sure when disabled outfielder Mark Smith will be ready to play. "He's still limping," Johnson said. . . . Disabled reliever Arthur Rhodes is continuing his rehab and will not throw for another two weeks. "I feel the same, not any better," Rhodes said.

Around the horn

The Orioles are planning an elaborate spectacle for the moment Eddie Murray hits home run No. 500. Further details to come. . . . Malone said yesterday that the Orioles continue to talk with other teams -- presumably about pitching, to bolster the bullpen. "We have to be persistent and hope something breaks."

Pub Date: 8/21/96

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