American League President Bobby Brown was given a sheaf of information by the Baltimore Orioles today, and the club expects a decision on the Jackie Gutierrez trade in a few days.
Brown met with Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams and General Manager Hank Peters today at the joint major league meetings in Dallas and heard them contend that Gutierrez was ill when acquired from the Boston Red Sox in mid-December.
The Orioles would like one of two things from Brown: that he void the trade or that he force the Red Sox to give them additional compensation for reliever Sammy Stewart. They got no promises.
"We exchanged some information, and there were no conclusions reached," Peters said tonight. "That's all I can say. Most of the time, I'm very open on things, but in this case, I just can't be. I know it leaves room for speculation, but that goes with it."
While the Orioles were saying little, several American League sources said they believed the team had virtually no chance of getting the trade reversed.
The key, they said, is what medical evidence the Orioles have. There are indications that Gutierrez suffered a nervous breakdown last November while playing in Latin America, and the Orioles' medical exams suggest he is a sick man, sources said.
However, working against them are two things:
*Gutierrez is not so sick that he can't play. Maybe he won't be able to play in a month or two months, but he worked out a second straight day at Miami Stadium today and appeared fit and happy.
*The Orioles' case seems to be based on the probability that Gutierrez won't be able to play a full season. Brown has to decide if that's different from, say, a player who has a fragile knee that might keep him from playing an entire season.
Regardless, very few baseball trades have been reversed, especially trades that are almost three months old. An American League source familiar with the case said he expects Brown to approve the trade, but that, if Gutierrez were to have problems this summer, Brown would ask the Red Sox to give the Orioles an additional player.
The Orioles' only objection to such a solution is that they want the additional player now, and Peters and Red Sox owner Haywood Sullivan spoke briefly about such a possibility in Dallas.
Lou Gorman, the general manager of the Red Sox, said yesterday that he sees no reason why the Red Sox should have to give up anything or anyone else and that there was always a "let-the-buyer-beware" feeling when teams make a trade.
He said he had no idea Gutierrez had any problems when the trade was made, and Brown has said he believes that, too.
"I would not do that," Gorman said. "I respect Hank Peters too much, and I have my own reputation to think about."
Meanwhile, in Miami, Gutierrez and the other Orioles held their first full day of workouts, and, after only two days, the Orioles have already seen a glimpse of Gutierrez's abilities.
He took ground balls at three infield positions yesterday, turned double plays almost effortlessly and took two rounds of batting practice.
"He has a terrific arm," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said, "which is what we'd heard about him. He's certainly got all the tools. This is going to be a tough camp for him. Regardless of whatever other problems he has, it's got to be tough for him to come in here and see Floyd Rayford, Cal Ripken and Alan Wiggins in the infield and say, 'Where do I fit in?' "
Commissioner Peter Ueberroth told baseball owners that he'll have an announcement Friday on what punishment, if any, he'll have for players mentioned in the Pittsburgh drug trial. "I have no idea what that'll be," Peters said . . . Owners expect Ueberroth to take a stance on future transgressors, but to go easy on those mentioned last summer . . . Expansion was on today's agenda, but the owners never got around to it. "It was one of those meetings where you don't get around to everything you want to discuss," Peters said. "Expansion was one of those things." . . .
In meeting with the full squad today, Weaver formally introduced Eddie Murray as the Orioles' first captain. . . . Weaver said he'll take a look at Juan Beniquez as a third baseman.