Don Mattingly's salary arbitration record lasted four years. Wally Joyner's lasted five days.

Doug Drabek, 28, the NL's Cy Young Award winner, set a record yesterday with the first $3 million award in baseball arbitration history. Raymond Goetz, who heard the case on Wednesday in Chicago, picked Drabek's request of $3,335,000 instead of the team's offer of $2.3 million. He got $1.1 million last season.

"Salaries are going up a lot, but people don't complain about movie stars making {big} money; they still go to the movies," he said. "We're in the entertainment business, just like movie stars and rock stars."

The big surprise, though, came from the Baltimore Orioles, who announced that free agents Larry Sheets and Mike Flanagan will return as nonroster players for spring training.

Drabek's record may not last long. Bobby Bonilla had his hearing yesterday. He wants $3,475,000 and the Pirates want to pay $2.4 million. Players and owners have split the eight cases decided by arbitrators, and 28 players remain scheduled for hearings.

Left-hander Chuck Finley avoided arbitration and tripled his salary when the Angels settled at $2.5 million, a $1.7 million raise. Outfielder Kevin Romine and Boston agreed to $355,000, a $95,000 raise; right-hander Willie Fraser and Toronto settled at $750,000, a $340,000 raise; shortstop Kevin Elster and the Mets agreed on $625,000, a raise of $365,000, and pitcher Mark Portugal got $705,000 from Houston, a $488,000 raise.

The Orioles totally averted arbitration by signing right-hander Jeff Robinson for a year at $575,000 and third baseman Leo Gomez for a year at an undisclosed amount.

Both Sheets and Flanagan jumped at the Orioles' invitations. Sheets, 31, was dealt to the Tigers for Mike Brumley. Sheets's 1987 season -- he hit .316 with 31 homers and 94 RBI, making him the last Oriole to hit 30 or more homers -- gave way to frustrating '88 and '89 campaigns. He was reasonably productive last season with Detroit (.261 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI in 360 at-bats), and the Orioles need left-handed power.

He reportedly turned down a two-year, $3 million contract offer to play in Japan. His standing with the Orioles will be much less certain as he is a mediocre outfielder and the team has more than enough designated-hitter candidates.

"I'm excited," he said last night. "I feel like it's an opportunity for me to start all over here. For the most part, my experiences in Baltimore were very positive, and I'm looking forward to resuming that."

Flanagan, 39, potentially could help the Orioles in middle relief and as a spot starter. He won 139 games (and a Cy Young Award) in 13 seasons with Baltimore before being traded to Toronto for young pitchers Jose Mesa and Oswald Peraza in 1987. He says he's over the arm trouble that curtailed his career with the Blue Jays.

The Orioles have a few personnel decisions to make before formal workouts begin in just over two weeks. They have been contacted by Candy Maldonado's agent but seem to have little interest in the free agent outfielder. They apparently still are trying unsuccessfully to trade third baseman Craig Worthington.

And if Sheets and Flanagan are back, at least temporarily, what about former Oriole Jim Palmer, 45, who wants to become baseball's first active Hall of Famer?

Year ... Player, Club ................ Salary

1991 ... Drabek, Pit. ................ $3,335,000

1991 ... Joyner, Cal. ................ $2,100,000

1987 ... Mattingly, Yankees .......... $1,975,000

1987 ... Morris, Det. ................ $1,850,000

1988 ... x-Dawson, Cubs .............. $1,850,000

1990 ... Pendleton, St.L. ............ $1,850,000

1990 ... Joyner, Cal. ................ $1,750,000

1990 ... L. Smith, Atl. .............. $1,750,000

1991 ... x-Santiago, S.D. ............ $1,650,000

1989 ... Carter, Cle. ................ $1,630,000

x-lost case