Hershiser Era as a Dodger Comes to End : Baseball: Pitcher is cut loose to go elsewhere. Claire will make contract offer to Butler.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Dodgers thanked pitcher Orel Hershiser for the memories Thursday, then told him goodby.

Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, told Hershiser in a one-hour meeting at Dodger Stadium that he will not be tendered a contract by Sunday's deadline for unrestricted free agents.

"There are moments for Orel that nobody will ever take away," Claire said, "and history will always reflect that. I recognized and he recognized the good things that have happened here and focused on the positive things. He handled it intelligently and rationally."

The Dodgers now lose all rights to Hershiser and forfeit the opportunity to get draft choices if he signs with another team. It's possible under the new system that Hershiser could later sign with the Dodgers, but certainly not for the $3 million he was scheduled to earn in 1994.

Yet Claire and Hershiser said they did not discuss the possibility of re-signing and never exchanged contract figures.

"I have no hard feelings," Hershiser said. "They've got to run a business, and I understand that. That's just the reality of the situation."

The Dodgers, who will try to retain free-agent center fielder Brett Butler, are expected to offer him a $3.5-million contract. Claire said that he will discuss his plans today with Dick Moss, Butler's agent.

"It's going to be strange without Orel," Butler said. "He's been the cornerstone of the club. It's going to be similar to the feeling when (catcher) Mike Scioscia left.

"He's one of the all-time Dodger greats.

"That's one thing about this game. It doesn't stop for anybody."

The Dodgers, who also did not offer a contract to free agent Mitch Webster, have trimmed nearly $9 million from their 1994 payroll. They expect to wind up with a 1995 payroll of about $30 million.

"A lot of things have happened to baseball and the Dodgers," Claire said, "and we've been faced with difficult decisions. This is certainly one of them."

Hershiser, 36, voted the most valuable player of the 1988 World Series, said that eight to 10 teams are interested in him. The Cleveland Indians said Thursday that they plan to aggressively pursue Hershiser.

Dodger Days

A look at the Dodger statistics of pitcher Orel Hershiser:

Year IP W L ERA 1983 8 0 0 3.38 1984 189 2/3 11 8 2.66 1985 239 2/3 19 3 2.03 1986 231 1/3 13 14 3.85 1987 264 2/3 16 16 3.06 1988 267 23 8 2.36 1989 256 2/3 15 15 2.31 1990 25 1/3 1 1 4.26 1991 112 7 2 3.46 1992 210 2/3 10 15 3.67 1993 215 2/3 12 14 3.59 1994 135 1/3 6 6 3.79 Totals 2156 134 102 3.00

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