Even though the New York Yankees wouldn't say so, all signs pointed last night to the probability that they will claim Bo Jackson on waivers by today's 2 p.m. deadline, The New York Times and USA Today reported in this morning's editions.
"We haven't put in a claim yet," general manager Gene Michael said. "We haven't done anything yet. We're still discussing it. We have a lot more things to talk about. We're going to know more tomorrow."
However, Dr. Dan Kanell, the Yankees' spring training orthopedist, has received a favorable report on Jackson's hip injury from Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., who has examined and treated the two-sport star.
Kanell declined to discuss the matter, but Andrews spoke with unguarded optimism about the likelihood of Jackson's return to baseball, if not this year, then next.
"I think he's a good risk for someone to sign," Andrews said. "He's going to help some baseball team. The Yankees would be lucky to get him."
Andrews acknowledged that he had spoken with Kanell, whom he knows well, and had sent his report to the Fort Lauderdale physician. Another person Kanell spoke to, who did not want to be identified, said that Kanell had told him he would give the Yankees a favorable report.
The Kansas City Royals asked unconditional-release waivers on Jackson on Tuesday. The Yankees, who selected Jackson in the second round of the 1982 amateur draft but lost him to Auburn University, have first claim on him now because they had the worst record in the American League last season.
The risk for the Yankees, or any other team, is that if Jackson can't play this year, he will have to be paid his $2,375,000 salary for nothing. Once the Yankees claim him, they also get his contract.
They and Jackson's agent could negotiate a new contract covering whatever eventualities might occur based on his ability to play. But they cannot discuss a contract before claiming him.
The released player, though, also has a choice. He can refuse to join the team that claims him -- he has five days in which to make that decision -- and become a free agent. In this instance, if Jackson opted for free agency, he would forfeit his $2,375,000 salary.
Jackson, however, is prepared to play for the Yankees, said his agent, Richard Woods.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz has talked with one of the doctors who examined Jackson's hip, indicating that the National League club may be interested in claiming the outfielder.
But the Braves, who had the NL's worst record last season, are 14th in line, behind the 13 other American League clubs.
* DENVER: The city's new baseball stadium will be called Coors Field because of Coors Brewing Co.'s commitment of $30 million to Denver's effort to land a National League expansion franchise for 1993.
The announcement came just two days after Denver's metropolitan stadium authority chose a lower-downtown site for a $139 million ballpark to seat 40,000.
Japanese investors are interested in joining the group bidding for a franchise, but the reaction has been less than enthusiastic, Paul Jacobs, attorney for the Colorado Baseball Partnership, said.
Until March 7, Major League Baseball had resisted foreign ownership. But at the spring owners meeting, commissioner Fay Vincent said a subcommittee had recommended allowing limited minority ownership by enterprises outside the United States and Canada.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the expansion committee, Pittsburgh Pirates chairman Douglas Danforth, said he didn't think the 12 existing NL teams would agree to a realignment of the divisions when two teams are added for 1993.
* BRAVES: First baseman Nick Esasky, making his second game appearance since coming down with vertigo in April, went hitless in three at-bats.
Esasky, playing the field for the first time, caught a pop-up and had four putouts without an error in six innings.
* CARDINALS: St. Louis reliever Todd Worrell, pitching for the first time since snapping an elbow ligament in 1989, retired the Dodgers 1-2-3.