Bobby Murcer, who hit 252 home runs in 19 years in the majors, was given his unconditional release by the New York Yankees before tonight's scheduled game with the Baltimore Orioles, which was rained out. No makeup date was announced.

Don Mattingly, a first baseman/outfielder, was recalled from Columbus, with Murcer moving to television commentary of Yankees games.

The move to release Murcer, 37, was necessitated when Ken Griffey, who has been playing first base this season, pulled a hamstring in Sunday's game, making his status day to day. The Yankees, needing another first baseman, decided to release Murcer, who was hitting .182.

"George (Steinbrenner, Yankees owner) called me at 5 o'clock today and told me that they were a little short-handed with Griffey's injury," said Murcer. "Heck, I wasn't doing anything, anyway. I wasn't even sure if I'd make the ball club back in spring training."

"We have been considering this move for some time, but it's something we hated to do," Bill Bergesch, the Yankees' vice president for baseball operations, said in a prepared statement.

Murcer said he would not play for another team if claimed off the waiver list. "I'm not interested. I'm through," he said, adding that he would consider a return only to the Yankees. When might he return to the Yankees? With an Oklahoma drawl and a smile, Murcer said, "Probably Old-Timers Day."