Giants Drop Orel Hershiser

The San Francisco Giants, whose final week rally nearly resulted in a playoff berth, Wednesday declined to exercise a club option for 1999 on veteran pitcher Orel Hershiser.

The Giants, who were eliminated in a one-game playoff by the Chicago Cubs, did pick up 1999 options on third baseman Charlie Hayes and pitcher Julian Tavarez. San Francisco also disclosed it is close to exercising the option on first baseman J.T. Snow, pending the results of his upcoming shoulder surgery.

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The 40-year-old Hershiser, a longtime Los Angeles Dodger, was 11-10 with a 4.41 ERA in 34 starts. He was surprisingly durable, tossing 202 innings.

"The Giants have nothing but admiration and appreciation for Orel Hershiser, for the way he helped our team not only on the field but in the clubhouse," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "We're still interested in the possibility of Orel returning to the Giants."

Nicknamed "Bulldog" for his tenacity, Hershiser spent his first 11 years with Los Angeles. In 1988, he enjoyed a spectacular season, going 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA on his way to becoming the unanimous winner of the National League Cy Young Award.

Hershiser broke Don Drysdale's 20-year-old record when he pitched 59 consecutive scoreless innings, then tossed a shutout in the decisive seventh game of the NL Championship Series against the New York Mets. He was 2-0 as the underdog Dodgers won the World Series in five games against the Oakland Athletics.

In 1990, Hershiser underwent reconstructive shoulder surgery that kept him out of baseball until May 1991. He finished 7-2 that season and was named comeback player of the year. But Hershiser never regained his earlier form and was allowed to sign as a free agent with Cleveland in April 1995.

Hershiser mde $3.47 million this season and was in line for a slight raise in 1999. San Francisco instead opted to exercise a $200,000 buyout option.

Hayes will make $1.7 million next season, $100,000 more than he was paid in 1998. A nine-year veteran, Hayes hit .286 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in 329 at-bats this year.

Tavarez will make $1.15 million, up from the $1.03 million he earned this season. The 25-year-old went 5-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 60 relief appearances.

"Both Charlie and Julian played key roles for us down the stretch last season, providing Dusty (Baker) with great versatility," Sabean added. "In Charlie's case, he was one of the best clutch hitters while also playing solid defense at both third and first base. Julian possesses one of the best young arms in baseball and had been a valuable part of our bullpen for two straight years."

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