BALTIMORE, AUG. 8 -- Alan Wiggins returned to the Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse about 4 this afternoon and found he had been assigned a new locker, one tucked into a remote corner away from most of the rest of the team.

He had asked for the vacant locker a couple of months ago, and, when he finally got it today, on the day his three-day suspension ended, the symbolism seemed appropriate.

"This is the holding cell," he said, smiling. "Everyone who gets this locker ends up somewhere else."

After he met with team officials, they announced that he had been allowed to return to the team and that he would drop his grievance over the suspension.

"Although I believe I have a winnable grievance," he said, "I also have a high personal regard for {team owner} Mr. Edward Bennett Williams. I owe him a debt of gratitude {for bringing him to the Orioles}. Therefore, I will take no action on this matter . . . I very much want to remain an Oriole."

Likewise, Orioles General Manager Hank Peters said, "This whole matter is now a closed issue."

Whether it is or is not closed, and what Wiggins' future with the Orioles will be is unclear.

He was suspended Wednesday when he cursed Manager Cal Ripken Sr. and, according to Ripken, grabbed the manager's shirt. Their argument came minutes after Wiggins and outfielder Jim Dwyer were separated on the field when Wiggins joked with a batting practice pitcher about hitting Dwyer on the head.

A day earlier, Wiggins and Ripken argued about Wiggins' complaining about having to make an appointment to take early batting practice.

As he returned today, he was again criticized by several teammates. Worse, his chances of playing much appear slim now that Bill Ripken has won the second base job. His only chances will be as a designated hitter or extra outfielder, positions where the Orioles are overloaded.

He said he has missed being at the games, although he said he spent Friday evening watching "The Color Purple" instead of the 9-2 victory over Texas.

But he was back at the stadium early this afternoon, going directly from a meeting with Peters and club Vice President Lawrence Lucchino into one with Ripken Sr.

After their meeting, Ripken tersely told reporters, "He's reinstated, and the books are closed. He's one of 24 people on this team, and other than that, I'm not going to comment."

Wiggins seemed subdued and close to tears a couple of times as he spoke with reporters this afternoon. He'd been much more outspoken a day earlier when he said he believed he'd done nothing wrong, saying of his teammates, "How they accept me is their problem . . . If anyone was transgressed on, it was me." Today, he said, he felt "self conscious" back in the clubhouse and that he was facing "a tough situation." He said he wasn't sure how much he'd be playing, or if he'd play at all. Yes, he did think he'd probably be gone if he didn't have an $800,000 guaranteed salary for 1988.

But he added: "After what's been done and said, I think there's a good chance I'll still be here the rest of the season. I want to bury this thing. It's tough enough on me."

Meanwhile, many of his teammates welcomed him back with less than open arms.

Dwyer said he wasn't sure how quickly the matter would be forgotten.

"He can go his way, and I'll go my way," Dwyer said. "Is it over? I don't know." Dwyer objected to Wiggins' version of events, adding, "Obviously, he's a liar, and I don't know if everything will just be forgotten."

Dwyer said Wiggins' relationship with his teammates wouldn't change "because it's been this way all year."

Third baseman Ray Knight was even more critical.

"I'm glad Alan's back -- if he wants to be part of this ball club," he said. "If Alan doesn't want to be part of things, I'm not concerned anymore. I think Dwyer has taken him fishing and done things for him. But it seems the more you try the less he appreciates it. I think now it'll be a matter of letting Alan go his own way, and we'll be a team with or without him. I'll say hello even if he doesn't say anything back to me.

"I wish him the best, but he's very difficult to relate to. He gets in his own shell, and he thinks everyone is against him. Somedays, he's smiling and the next day he's sulking. If you're not playing, you need to be on the front step pulling for everyone else. You shouldn't leave the park before games are over, which he has been prone to do. There are a lot of things people don't know about."