Things Aren’t So Grand for Padres : Wiggins Meets With Orioles to Talk Trade
Padre second baseman Alan Wiggins and his agent, Tony Attanasio, met Tuesday in Washington with Baltimore Oriole President Edward Bennett Williams and General Manager Hank Peters in an attempt to persuade the Orioles to acquire Wiggins in a trade.
Although Williams was unavailable for comment Tuesday, a source from the Major League Players Assn. said the Orioles will decide today whether they want him.
Meanwhile, Ballard Smith, the Padre president, said Tuesday that “for the best interest of our business” Wiggins will never again play for the Padres, an update from his statement that Wiggins would not play for them just this season.
“It’s obviously in our best interest to find some way to get rid of his contract as quickly as possible,” Smith said. “I woke up this morning thinking it’d be resolved today. "(But) it’s out of our hands.”
Apparently, it’s in the Orioles’ hands. Wiggins, who recently spent 29 days in a drug treatment center, had been in New York, where baseball’s Joint Review Counsel ruled Monday he was medically fit to play baseball again. He and Attanasio then left for Washington, where they stayed at the Jefferson Hotel.
Don Stockberger, an employee of the hotel, confirmed that Wiggins and Attanasio checked into the hotel Monday night and then checked out Tuesday morning. They then met with Williams and Peters, according to the source, who requested anonymity.
Before the meeting, Williams spoke with Associated Press sportswriter Gordon Beard about the Orioles, who have lost 11 of 16 games and fallen to third place in the American League East.
“I’m not going to sit idly by and let things go on like this,” Williams told AP. “We’ll see what changes, if any, we can make.”
And Peters has said the Orioles are searching for a second baseman.
Williams did not return phone messages left at his Washington office Tuesday, and Wiggins, Attanasio and Peters were unavailable for comment. Attanasio has scheduled a press conference for 10 this morning in San Diego where he said Wiggins is expected to talk about the last 45 days.
Jack McKeon, the Padre general manager, and Smith said they did not speak Tuesday with the Orioles and were not aware of Tuesday’s meeting.
Earlier McKeon had said he had talked to nine teams Tuesday. Of those, he named Cleveland, Texas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Oakland and Milwaukee. However, he said these talks were merely “for feeling each other out,” considering the trading deadline is Saturday.
On whether or not Wiggins’ name was mentioned by any of those teams, McKeon said: “I’d rather not to answer that question. It won’t be a yes or a no. It’s unfair to talk about it at all, since I’m still talking to those clubs.”
Don Fehr, acting head of the players association, will raise objection to the Padres’ announcement the club will not allow Wiggins to play for the Padres again this season, according to a United Press International report.
According to the source from the players association, Smith also was given a two-day moratorium (Monday) to trade Wiggins, and if he did not trade him in two days, the association would challenge the Padres, forcing them (perhaps through a grievance or an order from the Player Relations Committee) to put Wiggins in the minor leagues so he can begin to get himself back into playing shape.
That moratorium ends today.
Smith denied a deadline had been given.
“If that’s true, no one’s told me that,” he said. “I don’t know that at all . . . We’re not operating under any moratorium. The only deadline we have, I suppose, is the trading deadline.
“Nobody has any authority to tell us there’s some deadline. If the commissioner of baseball says so, maybe we’ll listen. The players association does not run our business.”
Smith also said Tuesday: “I think we will get a pretty good player for him (Wiggins) . . . Of course, they’ll get him cheaper than they normally would because he’s been in a treatment center.”
And the players association source said: “Yeah, and I think EBW (Edward Bennett Williams) thinks he can get him for a song.”