Wiggins Just May Show Up : He’s Assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas, but May Go to L.A.
San Diego Padre second baseman Alan Wiggins, who mysteriously disappeared before a game at Dodger Stadium 53 days ago, might reappear there today.
The Major League Player’s Assn., on Monday afternoon, gave Wiggins the following instructions: If the Padres don’t assign you to the minor leagues for physical rehabilitation by tomorrow morning, show up at Dodger Stadium prior to the Dodger-Padre game, demand your uniform and start working out.
But the Padres, who have maintained that Wiggins will never again play for them, ended up giving Wiggins a minor league assignment Monday afternoon to their Triple-A team in Las Vegas, an assignment that Wiggins has the right to turn down. And as of Monday night, he had still not signed the assignment papers, which means it’s still feasible that he could show up at tonight’s game, asking for his uniform.
“Alan Wiggins is not going to put on a Padre uniform, and the Player’s Assn. is obviously trying to cause a confrontation,” said Ballard Smith, Padre team president.
Earlier in the day, Eugene Orza, the associate general counsel of the Player’s Assn., had said: “The time has come for San Diego to move. They don’t have any time left . . . He’ll show up (at Dodger Stadium) if they don’t do anything.”
And the National League office and the Player Relations Committee, supposed Padre allies, apparently agreed with Orza. Orza said National League President Charles (Chub) Feeney had planned to order the Padres to give Wiggins a uniform and let him work out with the team if they didn’t assign him to the minor leagues by today.
And even though they did assign him to the minors, Wiggins has the right, under league rules, to refuse that assignment, his reason being that the Padres can’t qualify whether or not he should be sent down because they haven’t tested him yet.
If he does refuse, the Padres might actually be forced to give him that Padre uniform, something they said they would never do again and reiterated Monday night.
But if they refuse to let him work out in uniform, Orza said: “We’d have to make them, regrettably . . . I’ll be out with an arbitrator the following day. I can’t let them dilly dally anymore.”
The issue suddenly has become larger than just the Padres and Wiggins. The Player’s Assn. is trying to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the Player Relations Committee, and if the PRC can’t even get its member teams, such as the Padres, to follow through on the Joint Drug Agreement, how will they get teams to comply with a new basic agreement? This is the Player’s Assn.'s argument, and this is why Feeney and company are ordering the Padres what to do.
“I do know that people in the National League office and people at the PRC know the seriousness of the situation,” Orza said Monday. " . . . A lot of people (there) are being watched to see if they continue to let San Diego do what they’re doing.
“To honor a collective bargaining agreement requires honorable people. And the honor of a lot of baseball people are at stake in this matter. I’m talking about the Joint Drug Agreement, and the basic agreement. I’m talking about making sure people honor these agreements.”
According to Orza, the Padres have honored nothing. Wiggins entered a drug treatment center on April 27, was released on May 26th, later saying he was chemically dependent. On June 10, he was declared medically fit by baseball’s Joint Review Counsel, and under the drug agreement, it was then up to the Padres to declare whether Wiggins was physically fit to play baseball again.
The Padres then tried to trade Wiggins, but were unsuccessful, although they came close to dealing him to Baltimore. So Feeney ordered them to let him work out at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, and they complied.
The workouts? On Friday, June 14, he merely met with Padre General Manager Jack McKeon in the clubhouse. On Saturday, he went to the clubhouse, lifted weights, swung a bat and stretched. On Sunday, he was locked out of the stadium. On Monday, a clubhouse attendant hit him ground balls.
“They’re teasing the drug agreement,” Orza said. “We can’t let that happen.”
So Orza thought about sending him to Los Angeles for Monday night’s game against the Dodgers, but decided against it since it was on national television, since he wanted to avoid too much publicity.
However, Wiggins could arrive at Dodger Stadium today, and sources said Padre clubhouse attendants have been alerted of this.
“He’s been declared medically fit for seven days now, and they haven’t taken the time of day to make a baseball evaluation of whether he’s physically ready to play,” Orza said. “We don’t think the club has lived up to the Joint Drug Agreement, and we think the time has come for San Diego to honor the agreement.
“San Diego may not like the Joint Drug Agreement, but they signed it. A lot of Americans buy houses and don’t like the price, but they still have to pay the mortgage. They have to live up to the agreements they have signed.
“We can’t have labor peace under those kinds of circumstances.”
Said Smith: “All we’re doing is what we told Wiggins we’d do if he went on drugs again. We’ve tried trading him, but they want a confrontation. They don’t believe in the drug agreement.”
Rather than send Wiggins to the minor leagues, the Padres can trade him. But now that the trading deadline has passed, he must clear waivers before they can make a deal. This would take a period of six days.