Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees has received a letter from deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg, saying his comments in the New York Daily News two Sundays ago about the American League club going after Darryl Strawberry could be construed as tampering with the New York Mets outfielder.
"I have tremendous respect for Don Mattingly, and I'm sure that what he said was out of a desire that the Yankees return to former glory," Greenberg said yesterday. "But it is our view that no one in baseball -- a player, a front-office person or a manager -- should be making statements which could be construed as tampering toward a player on another team, especially in the heat of a pennant race. It could be a distraction."
* ANGELS: Right-hander Bert Blyleven, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 10, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday in an effort to repair a problem that has reduced strength in the shoulder.
* ATHLETICS: Manager Tony La Russa will start Dave Stewart in the American League playoff opener and Bob Welch in Game 2, but he has not decided between Scott Sanderson and Mike Moore for the third game. The pitcher not chosen will be relegated to a relief role because Stewart probably would return for Game 4.
* EXPANSION: Class AAA Phoenix Firebirds owner Martin Stone has resolved his differences with the county and lined up a new financial backer. He will pay the $95 million franchise fee if his application to bring a National League expansion team to Arizona is accepted. Stone had said earlier that the franchise fee was too steep and that he wanted to pay it over a 15- to 20-year period.