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Murray looks at options in Japan Veteran still hoping for deal with Orioles


Eddie Murray, told by the Orioles to look elsewhere for work, is exploring the possibility of playing in Japan, his agent confirmed yesterday.

"We've had conversations over there," said Ron Shapiro, who represents Murray. "You always make inquiries, but there haven't been any negotiations."

Murray has told the Orioles that he would accept a reduced role -- probably as a left-handed designated hitter -- and that he'd take a large cut in his $2 million salary. Nonetheless, Orioles general manager Pat Gillick told Shapiro he's not sure he'll be able to accommodate Murray on the club's payroll.

Neither Gillick nor Shapiro has ruled out the possibility Murray could re-sign, but the Orioles are exploring many other options. Returning to the Orioles, Shapiro said, "would be [Murray's] first choice. Our focus remains the Orioles until that's not a possibility."

The future Hall of Famer enjoyed a resurgence with the Orioles and hit his 500th career homer at Camden Yards on Sept. 6. After the Orioles were knocked out of the playoffs by the Yankees in October, Murray said he wanted to play a 21st season.

In other Orioles news:

Pete Incaviglia and Shane Mack appear to be among the Orioles' options for right-handed-hitting outfielders.

The Orioles expressed initial interest in retaining Incaviglia, who hit .303 after being acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in August, but his agent said he has not heard from the team in quite some time. Incaviglia's representative said a couple of other teams have called to inquire about the 31-year-old since.

Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone said he has tTC contacted Mack's agent within the past five days. Mack, 33, hit .333 with the Minnesota Twins in 1994 before leaving to play in Japan.

"We've discussed [Mack] as one of many options," Malone said.

The Orioles would neither confirm nor deny they have made an offer to Tony Fernandez, 34, who missed all of last season due to injury. Fernandez is a lifetime .285 hitter the Orioles would use in a utility role. If they signed Fernandez, it would likely mean an end to Bill Ripken's tenure with the club, although the Orioles have maintained they are interested in having Ripken back next season.

The club has announced its organizational player and pitcher of the year.

Rookie-level first baseman Calvin Pickering, who hit .325 with 18 homers and 66 RBIs in just 60 games, was named player of the year. Pickering, 20, the Orioles' 35th-round pick in the 1995 draft, was named to the Appalachian League's postseason All-Star team.

Pitcher of the year Nerio Rodriguez made it all the way to the majors in 1996. Rodriguez, 23, a converted catcher, went 8-7 with a 2.26 ERA before being called up for his first of two stints in the majors. Rodriguez was 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA with the Orioles in 16 2/3 innings. Manager Davey Johnson said at the end of the season that Rodriguez has a great shot at starting 1997 in the majors.

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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