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Grievance filed over release of four players

The Major League Baseball Players Association charged that four clubs released players during spring training to save money and filed a grievance against the teams. The union charged Fernando Valenzuela (Los Angeles), Pete Incaviglia (Texas), Oddibe McDowell (Atlanta) and Mike Aldrete (Montreal) were let go for reasons not allowed in the uniform player's contract. The grievance was filed Wednesday, and arbitrator George Nicolau will schedule hearings.

"This deals with whether their releases were motivated by anything other than their playing ability," union lawyer Michael Weiner said. "They were all filed together as one grievance to make a point about clubs' cost-cutting for whatever reason."

Valenzuela was released from a $2.55-million deal, received $630,495 in termination pay and recently signed an incentive-based deal with California. Aldrete was released from the $510,000 contract he won in arbitration, received $126,099 in termination pay and signed with San Diego for $250,000.

Incaviglia was released from a $1,675,000 contract, received $414,184 in termination pay and re-signed with Detroit for $500,000. McDowell was released from a $925,000 contract and received $228,709 in termination pay. He has yet to sign with another team.

Under the uniform contract, a player can be released only for lack of skill, breach of contract or detrimental conduct. Clubs may not release players to save money.

"It seems there were an unusually high number of veteran players released during spring training," Weiner said.

Richard Levin, the spokesman for management's Player Relations Committee, did not comment on the grievance.