Strawberry a Giant gamble?


The San Francisco Giants apparently are in a gambling mood, now that they find themselves two months into the season and still unable to assert themselves in the soft NL West. General manager Bob Quinn confirmed on Thursday that the club is investigating the possibility of signing troubled outfielder Darryl Strawberry to replace Willie McGee, who has been lost for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon. Who knows whether the addition of Strawberry would help put the Giants over the top, but wouldn't it be ironic if he turned out to be the only member of the Los Angeles Dodgers spring roster to make the playoffs? . . . The San Diego Padres still haven't been sold, but if the price gets any lower, owner Tom Werner might as well just give the club to Andy Benes and call it even. . . . Haven't the Dodgers heard about the federal Family Leave Act? They dropped reliever Gary Wayne off the major-league roster on Wednesday, but were unable to notify him because he had left the team to be with his wife, who was preparing to give birth to the couple's fourth child. First baseman Jeff Bagwell continues to crush the ball and carry the Houston Astros offense. He had multi-homer games on Wednesday and Saturday to boost his league-leading RBI total to 59. In a span of 11 at-bats, he had four home runs and seven RBIs. . . . It looks like Cincinnati's Rob Dibble is about ready to come back. He threw batting practice Saturday for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery and promptly drilled coach Joel Youngblood in the leg with a pitch. Not a comforting thought for NL hitters.

NL East

The defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies climbed back to .500 temporarily with a four-game winning streak last week, but they can't get a break. Starter Curt Schilling, who is four weeks into his recovery from elbow surgery, had to go under the knife again after he injured his knee during a rehab session on Wednesday. . . . The Mets are starting to take the big plunge and the return of pitcher Dwight Gooden doesn't figure to change anything. He did not pitch well (four IP, six runs) in his first start since going on the disabled list. . . . The Atlanta Braves are 15-1 in games that feature a home run by first baseman Fred McGriff. The San Diego Padres, who traded him away for a song last year, didn't get their 15th victory of the year until May 28. . . . Moises Alou is looking like the NL Player of the Week after a five-game stretch in which he had five home runs and 13 RBIs, but it looks like he'll have to stay that hot if the Expos are going to keep pace with the Braves.

AL West

When does the parade start? The Texas Rangers actually pushed their record above .500 on Thursday with their 7-4 victory over Kansas City, which should -- at least temporarily -- return some respectability to the division. First is first, according to Will Clark, who was on a team that won 103 games last year and didn't make the playoffs. The Rangers will be lucky to win 85, but it looks like they're going to take the division anyway.

AL Central

Funny how things change. The Orioles were supposed to be all hot and bothered over right-hander Kevin Tapani earlier this season, and it seemed at the time like the Minnesota Twins wouldn't have any reason to pay his substantial salary. Now, Tapani is on a roll -- he won his seventh straight decision with a six-hit performance against the White Sox on Saturday -- and the Twins are very much a contender in the AL Central. Once again, Branch Rickey was right. Sometimes the best trades are the ones that are never made. Though, in this case, Roland Hemond might not agree. . . . Look for the Royals to make a move this week. They have the worst home record in the AL Central, but that isn't going to last. They return tomorrow to Kauffman Stadium, where the law of averages and the slumping Angels should combine to help the Royals climb out of fourth place in a tight division.

AL East

The Boston Red Sox pitching staff had to be shellshocked after giving up 59 runs in a six-game stretch that ended on Wednesday. During the course of those six games, the Red Sox got one strong performance from Roger Clemens and gave up 10 runs or more in each of the other five. And that was before the Orioles arrived. . . . Tigers outfielder Kirk Gibson drove in seven runs with a grand slam and a three-run homer to trash the Angels on Saturday night at Anaheim Stadium. It was a career performance, and why not? Three of Gibson's major career highlights have taken place in Southern California. His first World Series appearance came in San Diego in 1984. His dramatic World Series-turning home run off Dennis Eckersley took place at Dodger Stadium in 1988. And now a career RBI high at the Big A. One more question. Isn't this guy supposed to be washed up?

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