MESA, Ariz. — Tommy John rejected a request made by the Angels Thursday that he waive the no-trade clause in his contract.
General Manager Mike Port made the request in a morning meeting with John.
Port stressed later that the Angels have not disqualified John from contention for their own staff, nor have they definitely decided to trade him.
"I simply wanted to review with Tommy where things stood and what the options were," Port said. "It was an effort to keep the lines of communication open and to be up front with a veteran pitcher who has won more than 250 games."
John, who has 255 victories, said he appreciated Port's honesty but could not waive the no-trade clause because he wants to retain (1) control over where he is traded, and (2) the right to discuss with the involved club both his role and the possibility of future considerations.
Asked if he accepted Port's contention that he is still a candidate for the No. 5 starting position behind Mike Witt, Ron Romanick, Geoff Zahn and Ken Forsch, John shrugged and said:
"My thinking hasn't changed."
John's thinking has been that the Angels seem determined to go with young players and to weed out, where possible, older players with high salaries.
John is 41. He is guaranteed $600,000 this year and $500,000 next year. He was a combined 18-26 over the last two years and is believed to have angered the organization by seeking outside pitching help from former coach Tom Morgan and from ex-Dodger relief star Mike Marshall.
John also said recently that if a young pitcher such as Bob Kipper or Kirk McCaskill has a good spring, it doesn't matter what he does.
John's attorney, Bob Cohen, said in the wake of John's first Cactus League appearance that his client wants to be traded if he's not going to be used regularly. He said that John would agree to be traded only to a contender. He also said that a person with significant influence on the Angels' direction had already made an informal request to have John waive his no-trade clause.
Port said Thursday:
"I told Tommy that as far as I'm concerned, he's still in competition for a position on the staff. I told him that in the event that changes and we conclude that he's not going to pitch every fifth day, then both of us need to be aware of the options."
There are two options: John can be traded or released. If he's released, the Angels would have to swallow his salary.
"Obviously," Port said, "if Tommy is not going to pitch for us, the least favorable option is releasing him.
"That leaves a trade and the question of his no-trade clause.
"My feeling is that I wouldn't want to pursue a deal unless we could consummate a deal. I think it would be unfair to the other club to make a deal and then have to say, 'Wait, we have to get the approval of the player and eight other people.'
"I felt that if Tommy were to waive the clause now, it might prove to be a time-saver later on.
"At the same time, I respect Tommy's thinking and his right to protect his contract. The bottom line is that we now know the lay of the land. I concluded the meeting by wishing him good luck and telling him that I hope he wins 20 games and that I hope it's with us."
Angel Notes Add Tommy John: General Manager Mike Port said he has received no trade inquiries regarding John, nor has the club ruled out the possibility of Bob Kipper, a left-hander 21 years younger than John, making the jump from Class-A Redwood, where he was 18-8. Kipper has pitched six straight shutout innings in exhibition play. "We'll start making some key decisions next week," Port said. . . . The Angels routed Seattle, 10-0, in an exhibition game Thursday, collecting 17 hits to increase their total for the last four games to 57 hits. . . . Reggie Jackson went 3 for 4 and had 3 RBIs. He is hitting .556 (10 for 18) with eight RBIs. . . . Bobby Grich had a pair of doubles and has hit safely in all six of his games. He's 9 for 19. . . . Craig Swan, Jim Slaton and Pat Clements combined on the three-hit shutout. . . . Swan, pitching without a contract as he comes back from a pair of 1984 operations to free an impinged nerve in his right biceps, has suddenly become an intriguing proposition. He allowed only one hit in four innings and has now allowed just one run in seven, reminding Manager Gene Mauch of the way he pitched during his best years with the Mets. "Swan was excellent," Mauch said. "I was very much impressed. It's not only what he does but how he goes about it. If he's one of the first four or five that I have the most confidence in, he'll be pitching." . . . Ken Forsch was scheduled to pitch Thursday but was bypassed to rest his ailing elbow. He'll pitch Monday. . . . Frank LaCorte said his tender shoulder is now showing improvement. . . . Kirk McCaskill and catching prospect Steve Liddle were hospitalized for intestinal flu and dehydration. They are expected to be released from the hospital today.