A's happy to return Baines to the lineup World Series notes

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland's Harold Baines went 5-for-14 (.357) with three RBIs in the American League playoffs, but did not play in the first two games of the World Series.

Such is life for a designated hitter in the sport's showcase eventPersona non grata in the National League city, a testament to reincarnation at the American League site.


Not surprisingly, the A's couldn't wait for the return of theilong-lost DH after they fell behind Cincinnati two games to none Wednesday night. The change alone should do them good.

"It'll be good to have it back so maybe we can just knock the ---out of somebody," reliever Dennis Eckersley said in anticipation of Game 3 at the Oakland Coliseum tonight (8:32, Ch. 11).


Manager Tony La Russa also thinks the addition of thlefthanded-hitting Baines should help, even against lefthander Tom Browning. "I think our offense will pick up," he said. "We'll see."

Cincinnati will add switch-hitter Todd Benzinger, playing him afirst base with Hal Morris moving to DH. Benzinger, 0-for-2 as a pinch hitter thus far, was robbed of extra bases in the ninth inning of Game 2 on a leaping catch by A's leftfielder Rickey Henderson.

* MONEY PITCHERS: Browning and Danny Jackson are eligiblfor free agency the day the Series ends, and Jose Rijo will get his chance after next season. Naturally, Rijo already is thinking about a new contract.

"If they give me three [years], I'd be happy," Rijo said, "But I'going to try and go for five. I want to get it done this year. If we don't, I might have to do some thinking about it."

Rijo said he loves Cincinnati and never wants to leave, but thReds might balk at a long-term contract. He has a history of arm trouble, and his 197 innings in the regular season were a career-high.

Of course, Rijo also went 14-8 with a 2.70 ERA, and has sincadded two more wins in the postseason. He comes from a poor family in the Dominican Republic, and appreciates how far he has come.

This is a pitcher who signed with the Yankees for $3,000 at thage of 15 -- and loaned $2,800 to his aunts. "I had one set of clothes I wore every Sunday," he said. "Eric Davis hasn't worn the same outfit twice this year.

"It's nice to have money," he continued. "When I first signed I goblisters on each of my toes because the shoes were tight. Now I'm making almost a million dollars, and I can do what I want."


* ORIOLES REPORT: General manager Roland Hemond met iCincinnati Wednesday with farm director Doug Melvin and special assistant Fred Uhlman Sr. to discuss the hiring of a new scouting director.

John Barr resigned the position this week to become assistangeneral manager of the San Diego Padres. The Orioles are expected to choose one of three in-house candidates as his replacement.

The three are special assistant to the general manager GordoGoldsberry, West Coast scouting supervisor John Cox and Midwest scouting supervisor Gary Nickels.

Goldsberry was Chicago Cubs farm director from 1981 to '87Cox was Cincinnati's scouting director in 1988-89. Nickels previously worked for both the Cubs and Philadelphia.

"We'll look hard to replace John with someone inside," Melvisaid. "We feel there are some people we have who can do a job. We're going to look at it seriously."

* DECISIONS, DECISIONS: It was a rare thing when A'righthander Bob Welch didn't earn one in Game 2. He had decisions in 34 of his previous 36 starts this season, winning 28 (including Game 2 of the AL playoffs).


Welch took a 4-3 lead into the eighth, but he gave up a leadoftriple by Billy Hatcher on a fly ball off rightfielder Jose Canseco's glove. Hatcher scored the tying run one out later on Glenn Braggs' fielder's choice.

La Russa was second-guessed for having Welch start the inninagainst Hatcher, who already was 3-for-3 with two doubles. Welch had completed eight innings in only eight of his 36 starts, or 22 percent.

* BIRD-BRAIN OUTFIELDER: The Reds' Herm Winningham weartwo feathers in his baseball cap during batting practice. This qualifies as a big story at the World Series.

"I do it all the time," Winningham said. "I've got a special knacfor finding feathers, and when I do I put them in my cap for good luck.

"I better be quiet on it, though. Once word leaks out Mrs. Schot[the Reds' owner] will probably want to sell them in her gift shop. She sells everything else."