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Chris Brown Is Out to Prove His Worth as a Full-Time Player

February 21, 1988|BILL PLASCHKE | Times Staff Writer

YUMA, Ariz. — Chris Brown reported to Padre camp Saturday. Condition: in shape and out of sorts.

The third baseman, arriving four days before the reporting date for position players, ran a little, took a few ground balls and then talked.

Not about baseball, but about salary arbitration and his displeasure over the way the Padres handled the recent hearing, which Brown lost. After listening to both sides last week in New York, arbitrator Frederick Reel assigned him the Padres' $265,000 offer instead of his $410,000 demand.

Brown, who made $215,000 last year, said he was not complaining about the money. He said he wasn't happy with what the arbitrator was told about him.

"It's not that I lost, it's a matter of why I lost," said Brown, who was not at the arbitration hearing but was represented by agent Eric Goldschmidt. "I understand that a lot of deceiving was going on by management, that they said some things I don't agree with.

"I know every time you go to arbitration, you are going to get ripped, but I don't think they have to be unfair about it. I had a lot of faith in the Padres' management until then. I need to talk to them about it now."

Brown, who joined the Padres at midseason last year from the San Francisco Giants, said he would not specify the nature of his complaints until he discussed them with the Padres. General Manager Jack McKeon said it will be news to him.

"I thought everything was done very fairly, very cleanly," he said. "Both sides presented their case, and that was that."

Brown began last season with a broken jaw and didn't play after Sept. 14 because of a broken right hand. He played in only 82 games for the Padres and Giants combined. In 1986, he played in only 116 with the Giants because of a sore shoulder that later required surgery.

Brown intimated that because of his limited playing time, the Padres likened him to a utility player despite a .284 average over the past two seasons.

"This wasn't the issue of a raise, it was the issue of what they felt I was worth," Brown said. "They felt I wasn't worth any more than a utility player. Jose Oquendo (of St. Louis) makes more than I, and he's a utility player."

If nothing else, Brown has been inspired. "I've got to go out this year and prove everybody wrong," he said. "I want to go out, play between 147-158 games. This arbitration is over. It will not bother me on the field. I won't let this make a difference."

Padre Manager Larry Bowa was glad to see Brown and said they didn't even discuss arbitration.

"I don't even like to know how much money a player makes," Bowa said. "All of that is completely out of my hands and of no concern to me. We didn't talk about it, and we won't talk about it. That's between him and the front office."

In the every-little-edge department, the Padres had contracted with Mesa Community College for use of their field during the upcoming 11-day trip to Phoenix. It is the first time during their annual Phoenix trip that they will be able to work out on a field other than their opponent's.

"I thought last year we went backward over there," Bowa said. "The guys who aren't playing in the games get eight swings in the cage before the games, and that's it. Now we've got a place to send our pitchers who we aren't using, or send hitters who are getting a day off.

"In the past, if we got rained out, whoever we were playing wouldn't let us use their field for anything that day. Now we can still go somewhere and get some work in."

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