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BASEBALL / ROSS NEWHAN : Anyone Want an Outfielder?

May 26, 1994|ROSS NEWHAN

Will anyone be chanting the name again? Will anyone be calling?

Dar-ryl. . . .

Dar-ryl. . . .

"Our industry has always looked in different places and different ways to acquire players of talent, and he was once a talented player," Kansas City Royal General Manager Herk Robinson said Wednesday.

"A lot has to do with his attitude and financial demands, but I'm sure he'll be scrutinized carefully and end up with another club if that's what he wants."

Robinson's implication is that an industry quick to forgive and forget is likely to provide a market for Darryl Strawberry, soon to be a free agent after reaching a financial settlement with the Dodgers on Wednesday.

Will he pursue that market?

Attorney Robert Shapiro said it is unlikely to happen in 1994 as Strawberry continues his rehabilitation from drug abuse.

However, Gene Orza, associate general counsel of the players' union, said the 33-year-old outfielder will definitely play again.

Where? When?

That isn't certain, but two clubs in the outfield market--the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants--didn't rule out possible interest.

"I don't know enough about his situation to know if we'd have some interest in bringing him to the Red Sox, but we could use another hitter and I suspect we'll look into it," Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette said.

"You have to be interested in what his bat represents if he's at all the hitter he once was. He obviously needs to go out and play somewhere before anyone would bring him to the majors."

Strawberry's back and drug problems have restricted him to 75 games in the last two-plus seasons. An interested club, however, could sign him for the minimum $109,000 a year through 1995.

The Red Sox, hurting for outfield power, displayed interest in trading for Montreal Expo outfielder Larry Walker or signing another rehabilitating free agent, Ron Gant, even before designated hitter Andre Dawson was lost because of knee surgery.

The inconsistently offensive Giants have also shown interest in Gant, but the former Atlanta Brave outfielder, recovering from a broken leg, will not be ready until after the All-Star break, and Giant General Manager Bob Quinn said:

"I'm not closing the door, but until we can see (Gant) work out, there's no sense talking about it. His situation is six weeks premature."

And Strawberry?

"Dusty (Baker, the Giants' manager) has known Darryl since his high school days," Quinn said. "He feels strongly about him. I talked to Dusty about it and he said that he had seen on TV that Darryl isn't interested in playing in '94.

"On Dusty's behalf, if that were to change, we'd have to be interested. If Darryl wants to play, I'd expect we'd at least listen."

Who else? The Toronto Blue Jays, maybe. The Baltimore Orioles, perhaps. The Chicago Cubs?

"He'd be a terrific hitter in our park because he's a left-center to right-center power guy," Cub Manager Tom Trebelhorn said at Dodger Stadium.

"Who would not seriously consider him? Every club will take a serious look," Trebelhorn said.

Not really.

The Colorado Rockies, who have the resources and ballpark, flatly ruled it out. So did the Houston Astros, who are contending in the National League's Central Division despite a vacancy in right field.

"I'd only be interested in the old Darryl Strawberry," Astro General Manager Bob Watson said.

The offensive hungry Royals? "I'm not sure where I'd play him," Robinson said of a set lineup that includes outfielders Vince Coleman, Brian McRae and Felix Jose, plus designated hitter Bob Hamelin.

Of course, the market could change significantly if Strawberry waits until 1995 to resume his career.

Will he wait? Dodger Vice President Fred Claire said he hopes so.

"There's no reason, no sense, to sign just because he's a free agent. That would be a mistake," Claire said. "I mean, looking at him and talking to him, Darryl seems to be in outstanding physical condition, but emotionally he feels he's let a lot of people down and he wants to get his life and priorities right before he plays again.

"He's on his way in that regard, and that's the way it should be."

* STRAWBERRY: Dodgers work out a settlement for the final two years of troubled outfielder's contract. A1


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