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Wiggins Is Suspended: 'Behavior'

September 01, 1987|ROSS NEWHAN

Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth suspended Baltimore Orioles' infielder Alan Wiggins Monday for "improper behavior."

Both the commissioner's office and the Major League Players Assn. refused to be more specific, but a source said that Wiggins, who is required to undergo drug testing because of previous offenses, tested positive recently. The source said that the players' association insisted on the nebulous language of the announcement.

Gene Orza, legal counsel to the players' association, seemed to imply that Wiggins, who will not be paid during his suspension, may file a grievance.

"I'll be talking to Alan, his agent and the (owners') Player Relations Committee," Orza said. "I have no other comment."

Wiggins' agent, Tony Attanassio, could not be reached.

The Orioles, in a prepared statement, said only that Wiggins was being suspended for "actions detrimental to the best interest of baseball." But an Oriole official, refusing to speak for attribution, confirmed that a positive drug test was involved.

Wiggins, who underwent drug rehabilitation when he was with the San Diego Padres in 1982 and 1985, was suspended by the Orioles for three days in early August after a confrontation with teammate Jim Dwyer near the batting cage in Milwaukee and another with Manager Cal Ripken in the clubhouse.

Wiggins reportedly cursed Ripken and grabbed his shirt. Wiggins said he only cursed Ripken and only after Ripken made a racial slur, which Ripken denied.

The source said that Monday's suspension had nothing to do with that previous suspension except that Wiggins was displaying a pattern of erratic behavior--both at the ballpark and away from it--that prompted teammates to encourage the club to increase the number of times Wiggins was being tested.

The source said that Wiggins recently had a shouting match with a female acquaintance in a Baltimore bar and argued with teammates. Wiggins, who batted .276 and stole 66 bases with the Padres in 1983, and batted .256 and stole 70 bases in 1984, has appeared in only 83 games this season.

Billy Ripken has been the club's regular second baseman since his recall June 11, at which point several Oriole executives reportedly urged owner Edward Bennett Williams to release Wiggins. Williams refused, reportedly hoping to get some value out of Wiggins, whose contract calls for a salary of $700,000 this year and $800,000 next year. He was signed by the Orioles as a free agent June 27, 1985, after being released by the Padres.

Though baseball has no joint drug program, Ueberroth's policy regarding players with multiple drug offenses is that they be prevented from returning to the major leagues for 60 to 90 days while undergoing rehabilitation and counseling.

The source said that he presumed Wiggins would fall into that category and that the Orioles indicated that Wiggins' eventual reinstatement would be left to Ueberroth.

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