MESA, Ariz. — Uneasy with his role as designated heavy in the ongoing Wally Joyner salary dispute, Angel General Manager Mike Port offered his first baseman an olive branch Friday--if not exactly the contract Joyner is seeking for 1988.
"If I were Wally Joyner, I cannot, in honesty, say to you that I'd be doing things 110% differently," Port said after returning from two days of owners' meetings in Florida.
"At the same time, if we switched sides, I think Wally Joyner, looking at it objectively, might not be doing anything differently than we are."
Joyner remained out of camp for the third day of full-squad workouts as he continues to wait for a resolution in his contract negotiation before reporting to Mesa. The two sides are believed to be $60,000 apart--Joyner asking for $400,000, and the Angels offering $340,000.
According to Port, too much has been made of Joyner's absence and the apparent antagonism between the two sides.
"I would not characterize this as Mike Port vs. Wally Joyner," he said. "Wally Joyner is a friend of mine, he's our player, he's one of our own. We're trying to reach agreements with 10 to 15 players now, but he is the one occupying people's minds at the moment.
"Jack Howell, Devon White and DeWayne Buice are unsigned at this point, but they're here in camp. Wally not being here is certainly his prerogative . . . Everybody here now is here voluntarily. Wally is not required to be in camp until after March 1.
"This is a statement Wally is making at this point in time. The fact that (if) he agrees to a contract now does not alter his rights to come here next week."
After March 1, clubs have the right to automatically renew player contracts--for as much as a 20% pay cut from the previous season. Port has set a March 3 deadline for renewing contracts, meaning that all unsigned Angels will officially be under contract on that date.
"There's a perception out there that if the Angels don't sign Wally Joyner, that he's entitled to free agency," Port said. "This is a completely different scenario . . .
"Wally Joyner has a contract. The numbers in Paragraph 2 may not be in agreement as of yet, but he does have a contract."
Port believes the Angels' offer is in line with the 1988 contracts being given Joyner's "peers"--other two-year veterans such as Glenn Davis, Jose Canseco and Will Clark, who have all signed for base salaries between $340,000 and $320,000. Joyner's agents contend that their client is a special case, because of his importance to the Angels and his popularity in Orange County.
"Everybody thinks they're unique in some respect," is how Port responds to that argument.
And so, the numbers on Wally Joyner's 1988 contract remain in disagreement.
Dan Petry's strained lower back was re-examined Friday by team orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum, who described the condition "somewhat improved" but still found Petry experiencing muscle spasms. Yocum changed Petry's medication and instruction to remain in his hotel room and rest until he can be further examined Sunday. Said Yocum: "The reality of the situation is that Dan is too sore to undergo further testing at this time." So what does that mean in terms of a recovery timetable for Petry? "I'd be happy with a week," Angel Manager Gene Mauch said. "If it's longer than that, I don't know how I'm gonna feel." Meanwhile, General Manager Mike Port claimed that Petry will "obviously" be pitching again within two weeks. Port could not, however, bring himself to describe Petry's condition as a back injury--referring to it three times only as "a factual occurrence." Sometimes, those factual occurrences can be a real pain in the back.