ARLINGTON, Texas -- Players association general counsel Donald Fehr insisted yesterday that neither he nor anyone else in the union has attempted to influence ongoing negotiations between Brady Anderson and the Orioles over a contract extension.
Fehr said that as a rule the union does not attempt to involve itself in specific player negotiations. Commenting on a report in yesterday's Sun that the association may have urged Anderson to postpone signing until after the season in order to prime the free-agent market, Fehr said: "We now have the perception out there that I'm pressuring Brady Anderson to do something. Up until the point I read about it, I didn't even know he was having negotiations."
Fehr found out yesterday. He said his office received a number of calls yesterday regarding the matter. "This is not an egg I can put back together," he said.
While a number of players, most vocally Atlanta Braves pitcher and NL player representative Tom Glavine, had criticized Mike Mussina's three-year contract extension signed in April, Fehr categorized it as only "a garden-variety contract."
Though Mussina's agent, Arn Tellem, was not enthusiastic about the deal, he received no pressure from the union.
Fehr said that in "99 cases out of 100" the players association has no involvement in contract matters. However, speculation continues that external influence has affected the recent pedestrian pace of negotiations.
Unavailable for comment earlier this week, a representative for Anderson's agents Dennis Gilbert and Jeff Borris yesterday denied receiving pressure from union headquarters.
Surhoff returns to lineup
Outfielder B. J. Surhoff was back in manager Davey Johnson's reconfigured lineup last night, and said he could have played on Monday, but was happy for one more day to rest a right groin strain.
"You don't want to push it if you don't have to," Surhoff said before going 0-for-4 in his first game since Friday. "But if it was really a big deal, I'd have been in there. It [the day off] didn't hurt."
Going to McDonald's
Orioles officials met yesterday with first-round draft choice Darnell McDonald, his father and adviser Jeff Moorad, but no significant progress was reported toward getting McDonald under contract.
"We had an hour-and-15-minute meeting today," Orioles scouting director Gary Nickels said. "It was the first chance for us to get everybody together for a meeting. It was an opportunity for Darnell and his father to go over a few things."
Nickels indicated that he felt the meeting was worthwhile but could not gauge what impact it might have on the negotiations. McDonald, a running back/center fielder, is preparing to report to the University of Texas -- where he will play both football and baseball -- unless the Orioles make an overwhelming offer in the next few days.
"They've told us that they are going to make an offer by the end of the week," Moorad said, "but Aug. 1 is the practical deadline for the discussions. It's an unusual situation."
Oates rethinks Rhodes
Rangers manager Johnny Oates can only marvel at the outstanding success of Orioles left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who floundered as a candidate for the Orioles' starting rotation during Oates' tenure, but is 16-3 since the start of the 1996 season as a middle reliever.
"His record is pretty surprising, but his big-league success with that arm is not," Oates said. "It was just a matter of him getting the ball close enough to swing at."
The Orioles spent the first seven years of Rhodes' pro career trying to steer him into the starting rotation. Only last year did new manager Johnson move him into a full-time bullpen role. Rhodes was 9-1 last year and is 7-2 in 1997 with 3 1/3 more strong innings last night.
"That was an organizational decision," Oates said. "Both Rhodes and [Jose] Mesa. We were trying to make them starters. Maybe we were a little stubborn. I guess it took somebody new to come in and do something a little different than we projected."
Tarasco in limbo again?
The July 31 deadline for trading without waivers is little more than a week away, but outfielder Tony Tarasco doesn't seem nearly as concerned about his place on the team as he was the last time the club faced a roster crunch.
"No, I can't do anything about it," he said. "We'll see, but I don't think anything is going to happen. I don't think we need anything. I think we can go with what we have."
Tarasco is batting .333 (8-for-24) with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in July, and has enhanced his value off the bench with a couple of big pinch hits.
"Lately, I've been good," he said. "I'm really just trying to have some fun when I get a chance to play. I always play hard, so it's not something I have to think about. I'm just relaxing and enjoying the summer instead of stressing out on something I can't control."
Ripkens hold clinic
Cal and Bill Ripken joined with their father, Cal Sr., to put on a youth clinic at a field adjacent to The Ballpark in Arlington. The clinic was part of a series sponsored by Chevrolet, which also employs Cal Jr. as a spokesperson.
Around the horn
Mike Bordick's ninth sacrifice bunt tied Roberto Alomar's Orioles season high from last season. Geronimo Berroa stretched his hitting streak to 11 games. Recent addition Aaron Ledesma pinch hit for Rafael Palmeiro in the eighth and lined a single to boost his average to .600 (3-for-5).
Pub Date: 7/23/97