While Ray Miller's status as manager of the Baltimore Orioles remained a mystery today and the Orioles' front office ground to a halt for lack of information, Miller began packing for the drive home to Ohio. He remains unsure of where he stands with the club, and the only man who really knows, majority owner Peter Angelos, spent the day in meetings that apparently had nothing to do with Miller.

"Peter and I have a handshake agreement that whatever we want to do we'll do," Miller said. "He's going to take his time. He's a busy man."

Miller's two-year contract, signed in November 1997, contains a club option for 2000 that must be exercised within 72 hours of the season's end, which would be Wednesday. However, Miller tonight said the clause is there so the Orioles could block Miller from going to another team if he so desired.

"All it means," Miller said, "is if I want to walk [away], I can walk."

Miller said he has no intention of going to another team, so he plans to drive from Baltimore to his home in New Athens, Ohio, and await word from Angelos. Asked when he expects to hear something, Miller said: "I don't know. I guess I'll put some pressure on them."

Angelos could not be reached today. A receptionist at his Baltimore law offices said he was in meetings. However, team sources said that Angelos is not sharing his thought process with anyone in the Orioles' baseball operations, including General Manager Frank Wren. Wren today said he does not know the specific language of Miller's contract, but declined to comment further.

As recently as last week, Wren and Angelos discussed a list of possible managerial candidates, according to sources, headed by former Milwaukee Brewers manager Phil Garner and former Colorado Rockies manager Don Baylor. But with no opening to fill, and no direction from Angelos, Wren apparently is powerless to begin the interview process.

Jim Riggleman, who was fired as manager of the Chicago Cubs on Monday, is also believed to be a top candidate if Miller is not brought back. Riggleman said today he has not been contacted by the Orioles.

"I wouldn't want to say anything about any job in particular," said Riggleman, 46, a Maryland native. "I've said I would like to manage again. I would look forward to jumping back in."

CAPTION: Ray Miller is awaiting word on his future from the Orioles but says he has no interest in looking for work with another club.