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Padres Ordered to Make a Decision : NL President Says Trade Wiggins or Let Him Work Out

Times Staff Writer

National League President Charles (Chub) Feeney ordered San Diego Padre President Ballard Smith to either trade second baseman Alan Wiggins on Thursday night or have Wiggins begin rehabilitation workouts in San Diego today.

And, as of Thursday evening, the Padres still had not traded Wiggins, although Baltimore Oriole General Manager Hank Peters said the Orioles had made an offer for Wiggins and that “it’s really in their (Padres’) court.”

It is presumed the Orioles offered outfielder Dan Ford because Padre General Manager Jack McKeon said Thursday night: “They made me an offer today, yeah. The guy’s on the disabled list. We’re not interested in that, no. Would you be? That’s like adding another person to your roster who can’t play.”

The only players on the Oriole disabled list are Ford and left-handed pitcher Mike Flanagan. Since the Orioles have an abundance of outfielders and have said they would trade one, Ford is almost certainly the player offered to San Diego.

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However, neither Peters nor McKeon would admit it.

Anyway, Smith, who has said Wiggins will never again play for the Padres, would neither confirm nor deny the Feeney conversation, but two sources close to Wiggins said it did happen. And Eugene Orza, associate general counsel of Major League Players Assn., confirmed it.

Said Orza: “That is my understanding, yes.”

Feeney did not return phone messages Thursday evening.

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Smith, when asked if he would let Wiggins workout today, said: “With whom? The Jehovah’s Witnesses?”

Actually, a large group of Witnesses have gathered at San Diego/Jack Murphy Stadium for a religious meeting, but Wiggins’ workout could take place at the San Diego Charger practice field, adjacent to the stadium.

Said Smith: “There’s nothing to stop him from working out, but who’s supposed to be with him? The club is in San Francisco. And he’s not going to go with the club, no. There’s nobody (to work out with).”

Sources said Feeney made his request only after the players association had made pleas to the baseball’s Player Relations Committee, asking them to convince Smith to test Wiggins physically. Under the Joint Drug Agreement, after a player is declared medically fit (Wiggins, who admits he is chemically dependent, was declared fit Monday by the Joint Review Counsel), it is up to the team to determine if he is “physically fit.”

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And the Padres have not acted on that rule, so the assn. notified the PRC. The PRC then alerted Feeney.

“The (drug) agreement will be lived up to,” said Lee MacPhail, president of the PRC.

Said Smith: “We think we are (living up to the agreement).”

Yet, if Smith refuses to let Wiggins commence workouts, it’s likely the players association will say the Padres have violated the agreement and will then file a grievance immediately.

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A trade would kill a grievance, and Peters said: “I’m not sure if they’re interested or not. They’ve indicated that there are several clubs interested, which perhaps is true. We’ve made a proposal. We’re waiting for them to say yes, no, or whatever.”

Ford, 33, went on the disabled list last Saturday after he injured his left knee working with exercise equipment. Flanagan was injured in spring training and is not expected back until next month.

McKeon did admit the New York Yankees are one of the teams who have called regarding Wiggins. Yankee Vice President Woody Woodward would not comment.

Still, it’s believed that Wiggins’ contract, which includes $1.65 million in deferred payments, is a major stumbling block to a trade.

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“Any contract with the magnitude of his would concern a ballclub,” Peters said.

Also, sources said the Orioles are concerned about Wiggins’ past, which includes a 30-day suspension in 1982 for cocaine possession and a minor drug charge when he played in the minor leagues in 1981.

Earlier reports had the Orioles offering a minor leaguer for Wiggins, but McKeon said he’s never been offered a minor leaguer, but only the player on the disabled list instead. He said he’s less optimistic about a trade with Baltimore than he ever has been.

“I spoke to the Orioles today, but never anything serious. . . . We’re still talking.

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“I can’t make a deal unless someone wants to do it. With the (trading) deadline being Saturday at 5 p.m., teams are shopping here and there. The closer we get to Saturday, the more interest, activity and conversations there are.

“I’d imagine it’d be drawn out until Saturday. When I talked to teams last night (Wednesday night), I thought something would happen today.”


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