Orioles: Gibbons released for baseball reasons, not drug suspension

BALTIMORE -- Jay Gibbons was released Sunday by the Baltimore Orioles, who lost patience waiting for the oft-injured outfielder to regain the form that enabled him to hit 26 home runs in 2005.

Gibbons batted .189 with no homers and four RBIs in 16 games this spring training after playing in only 84 games last season. Baltimore owes him $11.9 million for the next two seasons as part of a $21.1 million, four-year contract he agreed to in January 2006.

Gibbons, 31, was suspended for 15 days on Dec. 6 by commissioner Bud Selig following a media report that he received a shipment of the human growth hormone after January 2005, when it was banned by baseball. Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen also was suspended for 15 days.

On Friday, the commissioner's office and players association put the penalties on hold for 10 days to allow for further negotiations over their drug agreement. If a deal is struck, the suspensions likely would be dropped.

That, however, appeared to have nothing to do with the Orioles' decision to cut Gibbons. The team didn't see him getting much time as a reserve outfielder and left-handed designated hitter, and keeping the more versatile Scott Moore as a utility player made far more sense.

"The decision was essentially down to two players, and we made a baseball decision," said club president Andy MacPhail, who delivered the news to Gibbons.

"We laid it out pretty clearly," MacPhail said. "For you to be a productive player you need to play, and that opportunity just doesn't exist here absent some horrific injury. His words were, 'I agree completely.'"

Gibbons also did not fit into MacPhail's decision to rebuild the team with youth.

"We just need to move forward ... along the path we've decided we need to take," MacPhail said. "I'm convinced that it's the right thing for us to do."

MacPhail, however, did not make the decision without first discussing it with owner Peter Angelos.

"I gave him the ramifications and what my thinking was. I hadn't really reached any conclusions myself; I was really wrestling with this one," MacPhail said. "His advice was, 'You gotta do what you gotta do.' Those were the last words he left me with, and I took the position that this is what we had to do."