As expected, the Dodgers Monday renewed the contracts of relief pitcher Ken Howell and shortstop Mariano Duncan, who had been the club's only unsigned players.
Howell will make $170,000 this season, a $5,000 cut from last season. Duncan will make $150,000, the same as last season.
Not so expected was the way the players handled the resolution of their failed contract negotiations. Both had expressed displeasure at the Dodgers' original offers, which equaled a 20% cut for Howell and a 15% cut for Duncan, but they said afterward that they will accept the cuts and get on with their careers.
Duncan, who hit .229 and had 25 errors in an injury-plagued 1986, had sought $200,000. The Dodgers' first offer was $135,000, but Vice President Al Campanis raised it over the weekend.
"I'm not too happy about it, but there's nothing to do," Duncan said. "It's over now, and I don't want to be arguing with nobody about it. I just want to play ball.
"My agent (Tony Attanasio) is more upset than I am. Tony and I wanted $200,000, because even (utility infielder Dave) Anderson on my own team makes $225,000 and he doesn't play as much as me. Next year, I go to arbitration. My time's coming."
Attanasio said that the Dodgers' had not budged from their position all winter, that the club had given him no opportunity to negotiate and that Duncan's salary was not comparable with other major league shortstops.
"I would not call it a negotiation," Attanasio said. "A negotiation is give and take. There was no acceptance or discussion. They were saying that was the number, take it or leave it. That was it. Today was the only day I even got the opportunity to suggest what he be paid."
Howell, 6-12 with 12 saves and a 3.87 earned-run average last season, said he still is upset at the club's apparent hard-line negotiating tactics, but he seemed relieved that the maximum cut to $155,000 had not been imposed.
"It could have been worse," he said. "I just got to put all the negative things behind me. I think I'll be showing a lot more maturity if I take this in stride and get on to my job.
"The way I see it, if I do take this hard and don't pitch the way I know I can, it's like I'm justifying what they said about me, that I deserved the cut. I look at this like a swift kick. The only thing I can do is prove them wrong."
Howell even went so far as to praise the Dodgers for their generosity. "They could have been completely blunt and said I had to take the whole cut," he said. "That's what has kept me positive. If it would have been $155,000, I would've been down in the dumps. I'm glad they bent."
All winter, Howell and agent Steve Greenberg had maintained that the 26-year-old reliever deserved a raise.
They argued that since recently acquired pitcher Tim Leary and first baseman Franklin Stubbs each had received increases--but only to salaries comparable to Howell's--and the fact that Howell made 62 relief appearances merited him a raise.
"The hardball (negotiations) didn't bother me, it was the unfairness of the thing," Howell said. "I thought a raise of $40,000 (to $215,000) would be substantial. I came all the way down to $200,000. But they already knew what they were going to do."