As Orioles owner Peter Angelos and free-agent center fielder Brady Anderson extended their negotiations another day, general manager Pat Gillick turned his attention yesterday to the pursuit of free-agent pitcher Willie Blair and designated hitter Paul Molitor.
Gillick participated in a news conference to announce the hiring of Eddie Murray as coach, then left to meet Blair in Lexington, Ky., according to club sources. Blair, 16-8 with the Detroit Tigers last season, appears to be Gillick's most likely acquisition to improve a starting rotation in search of one more durable arm.
Meanwhile, Anderson and Angelos set aside their daily routine of talks, and it appears likely now that the issue will extend beyond the Thanksgiving end point the player and his representatives had projected. The New York Yankees failed to follow through on an expected call to Anderson yesterday. Having named Tim Johnson as manager yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays may now be prepared to pursue the center fielder.
Gillick hopes to have deals for Blair and Molitor within 10 days, according to a club official.
The Orioles also have expressed interest in Darryl Kile, 19-7 for the Houston Astros last season. But Kile's asking price may be too much, and he is believed to be leaning toward remaining in the National League, either with the Colorado Rockies or Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gillick's policy is to offer pitchers no more than a three-year contract; other clubs have discussed as many as five with Kile's agent, Barry Axelrod. However, a shorter contract doesn't necessarily put the Orioles at a disadvantage since Kile would again be eligible for the process at 32. Gillick is scheduled to meet with Kile in Houston later this week.
Meanwhile, Angelos and Anderson spoke briefly yesterday afternoon and postponed an evening negotiating session until today. Anderson is scheduled to return to San Diego tomorrow for the holidays.
"If I go home Wednesday to see my family, I'd plan on being there awhile. If Peter told me to fly back, I'd fly back. But I'm not prepared for that. I'd probably want to stay in California," Anderson said.
The Orioles are believed ready to offer Molitor, 41, at least a one-year deal plus an option for 1999.
Meanwhile, yesterday the Orioles re-signed backup catcher Lenny Webster to a $665,000 contract plus an option for 1999.
Webster had sought a two-year deal but is satisfied with an attainable rollover that would bring him back in 1999. Webster's option automatically vests after 70 appearances. His 1999 base salary would be $685,000 plus any incentives -- based on plate appearances -- earned next season.
Webster, who will be 33 next season, made 98 appearances last season, hitting .255 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 259 at-bats, the first time in six full major-league seasons he had 175 or more at-bats. His .995 fielding average was second among American League catchers.
If not for the rapid naming of Ray Miller to succeed Davey Johnson as manager, Webster may have signed with the Colorado Rockies, who had offered $800,000, though without an option.
"I enjoyed playing for Davey," Webster said. "Upon hearing that he had resigned, I took it kind of tough. But once they named Ray, he called me 20 minutes later and let me know he wanted me back."
Webster had arthroscopic surgery Nov. 12 to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Dr. James Andrews sutured tears on the top and bottom of the labrum and reattached it to his shoulder with a plastic screw. Webster is rehabilitating and expects to be ready for spring training.
Pub Date: 11/25/97