Still hobbled, Bo may know everything but when it's time to step down, slowly

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Bo knows.

He hobbled down to first base after delivering a base hit in an intrasquad game Wednesday and everybody else knew, too. He struggled down the base line a couple more times during the Chicago White Sox's exhibition opener on Thursday and removed all doubt.

It's sad. It's unfortunate. It will be over soon.

Bo Jackson has made a career of proving people wrong, but last week he proved that the doctors in Kansas City were right. His injured hip has not healed sufficiently to carry him around the bases, much less through the rigors of a 162-game season.

The White Sox have asked waivers on Jackson in what may be a technical move to define his roster status. In the meantime, they reportedly are talking to free-agent slugger Dave Parker about the designated hitter role that Jackson was supposed to fill.

Before the waiver announcement, Jackson was hinting that the terms of his contract were negotiable. He wants so badly to keep going, even as it becomes more obvious by the day that it is not in his best interest to keep pounding away at that deteriorating hip.

He keeps trying to run without a limp when he should be more worried about walking without crutches. Lord knows, he doesn't need the money. He doesn't need any of this.

' Bo, just stop doing it.

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Mystery man: Former Orioles third baseman Craig Worthington remains a man of mystery. No one ever really knew what was going on in his head, and now it is becoming apparent that he wasn't even sure which city he was playing in.

Worthington took no parting shots when he was traded to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Jim Lewis and outfielder Steve Martin three weeks ago, but he leveled a sweeping blow at Baltimore recently that missed the target almost entirely.

"This [San Diego] is a whole lot different than Baltimore," Worthington told the Los Angeles Times. "The people there were so bitter about losing the football team that they took it out on the baseball team. We could win 20 games in a row, but once we lost that one game, they'd boo. Really I think this will be perfect."

Is it me, or did Worthington get the thing turned completely around? The Orioles were the No. 2 sports team in Baltimore until the Colts left. They were also the team that lost 21 games in a row to begin the 1988 season and then got a standing ovation when they returned to Memorial Stadium after their first victory.

Worthington apparently wasn't paying attention, though he was around for the end of the record losing streak and for the magical "Why not?" run in 1989. Perhaps that is why he is not around now.

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Remarkable recovery: Former Detroit Tigers outfielder Chet Lemon visited the club's Lakeland, Fla., spring camp this week, just months after a rare stomach disorder nearly ended his life.

Lemon was rushed to a hospital in Gainesville, Fla., last August with what was diagnosed as a blood clot in his stomach. His weight dropped to 167 pounds and doctors did not hold out much hope for his recovery.

"Usually, when they find this, is when they are doing an autopsy," Lemon told reporters. "I was afraid to sleep. I thought I was out of here. The consensus was that my chances were very slim. I wasn't going to make it."

Lemon remains on blood-thinning medication, which has restricted his activities, but he is back up to his playing weight of 190 pounds.

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The non-roster revolution revisited: There are at least 175 non-roster players with big-league experience in major-league camps this spring, and more than 80 of them are pitchers. Every team has at least one pitcher with big-league experience in camp as a non-roster player, which lends credence to the notion that the widespread move toward Triple-A contracts for veteran players is not a coincidence.

Remember the free agent freeze-out of 1986-87? This is starting to look like the free agent farm-out of 1991-92. The top-flight players still are signing for the big dollars and the remaining roster spots are going to players at the lowest end of the salary scale.

"It's just like the taxpayer, the middle class is getting squeezed pretty good," Toronto Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick said recently.

The Major League Players Association is on alert, but union director Don Fehr said that he's waiting to see how many of the non-roster players stay around for Opening Day.

"If they all do," he said, "it would be an indication that they have more value than anyone thought."

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Divine intervention: Padres manager Greg Riddoch called a night intrasquad game for Thursday, but he would live to regret the unorthodox workout. A transformer blew in the ninth inning and knocked out power all over the club's Yuma, Ariz., training facility.

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Three-peat or bust: If veteran right-hander Jack Morris can lead the Toronto Blue Jays to the World Series, he would be only the fifth pitcher to appear in the Series as a member of three different teams.

The others:

* Joe Bush -- 1913-14 Philadelphia Athletics, 1918 Boston Red Sox and 1922-23 New York Yankees.

* Paul Derringer -- 1931 St. Louis Cardinals, 1939-40 Cincinnati Reds and 1945 Chicago Cubs.

* Burleigh Grimes -- 1920 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1930-31 St. Louis Cardinals and 1932 Chicago Cubs.

* Grant Jackson -- 1971 Orioles, 1976 New York Yankees and 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Morris isn't talking about the Series, but he is talking about proving that he can continue to perform at the level that made him an 18-game winner and World Series MVP last year.

"It's more of a challenge than ever before," he said. "People keep saying I'm too old [at 36]. I've shut them up for a while, but the bad side is that someday they are going to be right."

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The hard way: Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn finished third in the National League with a .317 batting average, but he ranked first in the major leagues in line outs, according to the STATS 1992 Baseball Scoreboard.

Gwynn lined out 46 times, far more than NL batting champion Terry Pendleton (20 times) and runner-up Hal Morris (29). If just half of those balls had fallen in, Gwynn would have finished the season with a major league-leading .360 average.

STATS predicts that the unluckiest players of 1991 -- those with the highest ratio of line outs to at-bats -- likely will improve on last year's batting average. If that turns out to be the case, it could be a solid year for Orioles outfielder Joe Orsulak, who ranked third in the American League in that department behind Wade Boggs and Felix Fermin.

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All in the family: Veteran second baseman Jim Gantner has been thrown out stealing by four members of the Rick Dempsey extended family. He was thrown out a number of times by Dempsey in the major leagues and was thrown out by Dempsey's brother Pat in the minor leagues. More recently, he has been thrown out by Dempsey's son John (a Cardinals farmhand) and nephew Greg Zahn (an Orioles prospect) while on an injury rehabilitation assignment in the Midwest League.

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Wake-up call: Ryne Sandberg got a call at 5:30 a.m. the day after signed his four-year, $28.5 million contract extension.

"Remember, you're just a throw-in," said the voice at the other end.

The voice belonged to former Cubs shortstop Larry Bowa, who came to Chicago with a minor-league prospect named Ryne Sandberg in the 1981 deal that sent shortstop Ivan DeJesus to the Philadelphia Phillies.

* Salary crunch: Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Neal Heaton enjoys the role he's playing with the defending NL East champions, but he doesn't seem to think that the Pirates are satisfied with a million-dollar middleman.

"They are over budget," he said. "They are going to have to cut some salaries. With the Pirates, I'm a middle man. They are not going to want to pay me a million dollars."

Heaton expects the Pirates to showcase him during the exhibition season and move him to a team that might use him as a fifth starter.

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Rocket returns to Earth: Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens knows that he set himself up for a fall by reporting to spring training late, but he apparently doesn't mind putting extra pressure on himself.

"I've been taking care of myself," he said after arriving in camp. "Now that I'm here, I have to pitch and get ready and that's what all my efforts will be put toward. I know that everyone will point the finger at me if we don't do the job."

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More on Morris: Sportswriter Vern Plagenhoef of Booth Newspapers asked Morris recently how he responds to charges that he took the money and ran away from his hometown Minnesota Twins.

Morris said he would have stayed in Minnesota for $1 million less than the two-year, $10.85 million guarantee the Blue Jays offered, but didn't feel the Twins were ready to devote that kind of money to anyone except center fielder Kirby Puckett.

"It's a flat-out fact they are saving the money for Kirby," Morris said. "What Twins fan can't understand that?"

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A hair-razing tale: Cleveland Indians outfielder Glenallen Hill arrived at training camp with a new haircut -- a strange-looking coiffure he labeled "The Hurricane." But just as everyone was getting used to it, Hill showed up in camp Monday with his head shaved, leaving inquiring minds to wonder what happened to The Hurricane.

1% "The weather changed," Hill said.

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The check really was in the mail: The Twins don't figure to miss reserve catcher Junior Ortiz, who parlayed last year's World Series appearance into a non-roster audition with the Indians, but at least one Twins fan wasn't happy that the club ran him off.

Ortiz was going through his fan mail the other day and found a check from a St. Cloud, Minn., man for $120,000.

"It's got to be a joke," Ortiz said, but he still asked Indians traveling secretary Mike Seghi to make sure, offering him $5,000 if the check cashes.

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In defense of Sandberg: Tigers manager Sparky Anderson apparently doesn't think that greed is the reason the game's top players keep pushing the salary record higher.

"It can't be greed if a contract is drawn up and signed by a player, because you have to have another signature on the contract," Anderson said.

He is right, of course. The blame for baseball's salary insanity must be placed squarely on ownership, which has lost economic control of the game.

Twins GM Andy MacPhail may have put it best.

"This is a little overwhelming and a little embarrassing to be a part of," he said.

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Pay now, save later: It appears that some of the middle-market teams are taking a new approach to contract negotiations with ** their young players. The Milwaukee Brewers, for example, just signed Greg Vaughn to a two-year, $2.1 million contract that will keep him away from the arbitration table next year, and may try to do the same with several other potential arbitration candidates. The Indians also have extended two-year offers (some with a third-year option) to a number of their unsigned two-year players.

It is not a new concept, but it could be a new trend for teams that want to get a handle on their payroll a couple of years in advance. Vaughn had 27 homers and 98 RBI last year. If he duplicates that performance in 1992, who knows what an arbitrator would have awarded him after the season.

Trivia quiz: Who reached first base on an error more than any other player in the major leagues last year?

Rumor of the Week: The Kansas City Royals are rumored to be shopping reserve catcher Bob Melvin heavily, just months after he was acquired in the deal that brought Storm Davis back to the Orioles. Melvin doesn't figure to get substantial playing time in Kansas City, so the club would like to unload his $950,000 salary.

So, why did the Royals take Melvin in the first place? Because they wanted to unload $1.9 million of Davis' salary.

I= Trust me. It all makes sense in a convoluted sort of way.

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Unhappy camper: Pitcher Andy Benes was less than thrilled when the Padres withdrew their $425,000 contract offer last week and renewed him at $375,000. He's already planning his revenge.

"I'll take them to court [arbitration] three times and then I'll walk free," Benes said.

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Trivia answer: Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken reached first via error times last year to lead the major leagues in that department.

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