The Dodgers renewed the contracts of second-year pitchers Tim Belcher and Tim Crews Thursday, which left neither pitcher happy but left Executive Vice President Fred Claire with no unsigned players on the eve of Saturday's exhibition opener.
Belcher, last season's rookie pitcher of the year, was renewed at $225,000. Crews, who was 4-0 as a middle reliever but left off the postseason roster, was renewed at $130,000. Both players made $78,000 last season.
Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, neither player is eligible for arbitration until after his third season, and if he does not agree to contract terms, the team has the option of renewing his salary at the minimum figure of $68,000.
Belcher said he was seeking a contract similar to the one signed by Orel Hershiser after his first season, adjusted for inflation and factoring in Belcher's postseason performance in 1988, when he won two playoff games and added another win in the World Series. Hershiser was paid $212,000, and by Belcher's calculations, that translated into a salary in the neighborhood of $300,000 for him.
Crews and the team were about $20,000 apart in their negotiations.
Belcher said he did not contemplate walking out of camp, a step Hershiser said he was willing to take in 1985. Belcher did say that he would not have pitched as scheduled in Saturday's exhibition game against the New York Mets without a contract.
"I feel good about the fact that I didn't try to improve my bargaining position by doing a lot of foolish things--I guess they're foolish things, but they're the only options you have as a player," Belcher said.
"You can either not come to camp, come to camp and walk out, or come to camp, cause a stink then walk out. But that wasn't my intention."
"But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. . . . I look at it as lost money."
Claire said Belcher's contract compares favorably with other second-year players in the major leagues, citing Chris Sabo of Cincinnati, the National League's rookie of the year, as an example. Sabo signed for $155,000 with an additional $25,000 if he makes the All-Star team.
Belcher said the Dodgers told him that Hershiser was given his salary figure under a different regime, that of former Executive Vice President Al Campanis.
"My comeback is, 'Different occupants, same house,' " Belcher said. "They've said many times, 'Championship players deserve championship salaries.' "
The Dodgers will open exhibition play today with a game against the Kansas City Royals in Baseball City. The only regulars who are not going are Kirk Gibson, Willie Randolph and Mike Marshall. Tim Leary is scheduled to start for the Dodgers, with Tim Crews and Ricky Horton scheduled to pitch in relief. . . . Eddie Murray's number '33' will be retired by the Baltimore Orioles sometime this season, the Orioles announced. Murray becomes the fifth Oriole accorded that honor, joining Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer.