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Orioles give Gruber unconditional release

July 12, 1997

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The Baltimore Orioles gave former two-time All-Star Kelly Gruber his unconditional release Saturday.

Gruber, 35, was attempting a comeback after retiring from the majors in 1993. Signed as a free agent in December, Gruber performed poorly in spring training and was sent to Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .250 with two homers in 38 games.

Gruber was picked to play in the 1989 and 1990 All-Star games and was working on an excellent career with the Toronto Blue Jays until 1992, when the infielder hurt his back taking a swing during an April game.

Gruber played in pain into the postseason, when he hurt his shoulder while applying a tag on Deion Sanders during a triple play in the World Series against Atlanta.

The Blue Jays won the Series, then traded Gruber to the California Angels two months later. He played in only 18 games with California before finally deciding that he couldn’t bear the pain anymore.

The injury was diagnosed as stiffness in his left shoulder and neck, but Gruber knew it was more than that. He walked away from the game to see if rest would cure the pain, but it didn’t.

Finally, in August 1995, he underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

When he returned this spring, he had a new attitude.

``I’m here to find out if there’s anything left. I’m not in this game to hang on, chase records or to get into the Hall of Fame,″ he said in February. ``I’m here to help this team win. If that can’t happen, I won’t have any fun and I won’t stick around.″

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