Union to fight Alomar fine Fehr says grievance 'virtually certain' over $10,500 levy

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Major League Baseball Players Association intends to file a grievance on behalf of Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar in protest of the significant fine slapped on the player by manager Davey Johnson.

While a low-key effort is being made by the team to defuse the issue without undercutting Johnson's authority, players association general counsel Donald Fehr said yesterday that "I expect there to be a grievance" filed against the team.

"I believe the notice of discipline from Davey Johnson was received by Robbie on July 11. We received notification and there's 30 to 45 days to respond. I'm virtually certain a grievance will be filed and handled in an ordinary course of events," Fehr said.

Johnson notified Alomar of a $10,500 fine on July 11, the day the Orioles returned from the All-Star break. The day before, Alomar had failed to accompany the team to Rochester, N.Y., for an exhibition against its Triple-A affiliate. The All-Star had not sought an excused absence from Johnson. Of the fine's total, $10,000 was assessed for Alomar's failing to make the trip. The additional $500 was tacked on for Alomar's failing to participate in a mandatory banquet held to introduce the team in April.

Questions remain that Johnson has repeatedly refused to answer.

Why was the fine so large? According to one union official, it was the largest in memory assessed by a manager for an off-the-field incident.

The fine also was apparently handed down before Johnson consulted with general manager Pat Gillick, who has backed Johnson publicly but made clear that the decision was "the manager's prerogative."

While Johnson attempted to instill greater clubhouse discipline last season, often to the distraction of veteran players who had grown comfortable with their own routines, Johnson had appeared more lenient this year. Shortly after fining Alomar, Johnson reiterated in a clubhouse meeting that his only rule was to show up and play.

Alomar said he had intended to fly home to Puerto Rico to be with family after the death of his grandmother. But he never explained why, after realizing he couldn't find a return flight in time for the July 11 game against the Milwaukee Brewers, he didn't make the trip or notify Johnson of his planned absence.

The union may not file a grievance against any fine up to $500, but the amount of this levy virtually guaranteed union involvement.

Barring settlement, a grievance could be filed as late as Aug. 25 with a hearing scheduled for shortly thereafter. The union could argue that Johnson had no just cause and also cite precedent to portray Alomar as the victim of a double standard. After the 1994 All-Star break, Lee Smith approached then-manager Johnny Oates about the possibility of missing a day-off workout. Told he would be fined $500, Smith wrote out a check and dropped it on Oates' desk. Though Alomar's fine was administered by a different manager, it could be argued that precedent suggested a lower penalty.

Pub Date: 7/24/97

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