ROSEMONT, Ill. -- The Kansas City Royals apparently remember how Kirk Gibson pumped life into the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, so they signed him to a two-year contract late Friday night.
Gibson, who hobbled through the 1989 and 1990 seasons on a pair of injured hamstrings, passed a physical examination Friday and accepted an incentive-laden deal that reportedly could pay him as much as $4.6 million over the next two seasons.
His return to the American League will allow him to play every day as a designated hitter and reduce the wear and tear on his ailing legs, even though he will be playing on artificial turf in nearly 60 percent of the Royals' regular-season games.
Gibson doesn't figure to play much in the outfield for the Royals, who probably will go with an alignment of Bo Jackson in left field, Danny Tartabull in right and promising Brian McRae in center.
The Royals apparently believe his bat and his leadership qualities will help pull them back from 1990's frustrating sixth-place finish.
"I play very hard and with a lot of emotion," Gibson told The Associated Press yesterday. "You've got to stay focused on some of the days when things aren't going so good. All I can say is, I promise you I will play as hard as I can and do everything I can to win ballgames. I'm not a vocal lecture person. I'm just a leader by example with a lot of desire. And that can be contagious."
Gibson won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1988 and highlighted that season with a dramatic home run off Oakland Athletics stopper Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the World Series.
The next two seasons were less than spectacular, however, and Gibson has tried to persuade the Dodgers to trade him back to the Detroit Tigers. His days in Los Angeles became short after he engaged in a near-violent confrontation with Dodgers general manager Fred Claire.
* The agent for first baseman/outfielder Franklin Stubbs has taken up residence at the Hyatt O'Hare, but said yesterday that he had not yet had a second offer from the Baltimore Orioles.
Stubbs was rumored to be close to signing a contract with the Atlanta Braves, but GM John Schuerholz told reporters that his club considered free-agent third baseman Terry Pendleton a much higher priority.
* Orioles GM Roland Hemond said yesterday that he traveled to the meetings on the same plane as Ron Shapiro, agent for Matt Young, but that no plans had yet been made to discuss a contract for the veteran left-hander.
* Boston Red Sox GM Lou Gorman said he has talked with Hemond at least five times in the past week, but doesn't think that the Red Sox and Orioles match up well for a trade.
The Orioles apparently retain their interest in outfielder Mike Greenwell and have inquired about outfielder Phil Plantier and infielder Carlos Quintana, but are reluctant to discuss their top right-handed pitchers. The Red Sox are thought to be interested in Pete Harnisch.
* Commissioner Fay Vincent will not attend the meetings. He has been suffering from a respiratory infection and was advised by his physician not to travel.
The commissioner traditionally gives a "State of the Game Address," but it will be distributed in written form this year. In Vincent's absence, deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg will preside over the meetings.
* Orioles manager Frank Robinson said third-base prospect Leo Gomez would be given an opportunity to compete for the everyday job there next spring, though Craig Worthington remains first on the club's depth chart.