Vincent can try, but DH will endure

On baseball ......HC VrB

June 21, 1991|By Jim Henneman

Commissioner Fay Vincent seems determined to have the American League's designated hitter rule abolished and has even gone on record as predicting its eventual demise.

However, it's not likely that AL pitchers will be taking batting practice any time soon -- if ever. There are too many contracts with players who could end up their careers in DH roles.

If the DH were to be eliminated it would happen only on a "phasout" basis. But being able to keep hitters in the game for a couple of extra years still has a lot of appeal.

"I don't think it will ever happen," said one American Leaguofficial. "This is the 18th year for the DH and it has become widely accepted in amateur baseball."

Even if Vincent had his way and convinced the AL that the gamwould be served best by doing away with the designated hitter, there's no assurance the governing body of baseball would approve. The Major League Players Association has a voice in all rule changes and could be expected to support veteran players who might be affected.

* A'S TRACKING JACOBY: The Oakland A's, who have madsome shrewd acquisitions while winning the last three American League pennants, may be ready to make another one.

When the Cleveland Indians are able to activate Reggie Jacksonot that Reggie Jackson -- the one picked up because of a front-office paper work snafu by the Cincinnati Reds), third baseman Brook Jacoby reportedly will be traded. And the A's, still trying to replace the injured Carney Lansford, are interested.

Incidentally, the Reds didn't get completely snookered whethey lost Jackson. In return they got first baseman Tim Costo, the Indians' No. 1 draft pick last year, and a legitimate power hitting prospect. Costo played for Kinston last year and was very impressive in the Carolina League playoffs, which were won by the Orioles' Frederick farm team.

* FROM THE "OTHER" REGGIE: The real Reggie Jackson wadoing advance scouting work for the A's when the Orioles were in Boston a few weeks ago.

"I do whatever they ask me to do," said Reggie, who also is working as a special projects coach and television analyst for the A's. "If you want to stay in this game you have to be able to swallow your ego."

Still, something seems out of place with Reggie working oddand ends and Rick Burleson serving as the A's hitting coach.

Here's a scouting observation from Jackson on Oriolerighthander Jose Mesa: "He has good stuff, but he throws too many pitches in the middle of the plate."

* DEFINITION OF A WORKHORSE: If you can't really grasp homuch the Orioles have missed Ben McDonald this year, or the importance of a consistent workhorse in the starting rotation, check out Minnesota's Scott Erickson.

When the righthander went six innings to beat the Orioles for hi11th straight win Tuesday night it was his briefest outing of the year. And (this one will make John Oates cry), Erickson has yet to allow a run in the first inning since he came to the big leagues last June.

* WATCH THIS LEFTY: When Towson State's Chris Nabholwent on Montreal's disabled list earlier in the week the Expos replaced him with another lefthander with Baltimore connections.

Chris Haney, son of former Orioles catcher and currenMilwaukee coach Larry Haney, was promoted from Montreal's Double A Harrisburg farm team. A No. 2 draft choice last year, Haney was 5-3 with a 2.58 earned run average at Harrisburg.

* HOLY COW, ZIM'S ZIMMERING: After he was fired amanager, Don Zimmer said he would continue to pull for the Cubs. But he changed his tune big time this week and even had some harsh words for perennial All-Star second baseman Ryne Sandberg.

"I see Sandberg hitting third," Zimmer told a Chicagsportscaster. "I knew Sandberg should have been hitting third the last four or five years, but the guy didn't want to -- he wanted to hit second, so that's where he hit. Whenever I was asked about it, I had to cover it up. I wanted him to steal bases, but he only wanted to steal when he felt comfortable. He only wanted to steal when the count was right."

Zim also accused the broadcast team of Harry Caray anex-Oriole Steve Stone of doing a job on him.

"I never got to hear those guys when I was managing . . . I didn't hear what they said about me until after I was fired," said Zimmer. "I heard from friends what a job Harry and Steve did on me the two weeks before I was fired. All I can say is Steve Stone is the smartest baseball man I've ever heard. He's beautiful."

Apparently not even Zim's loyalty to longtime pal Jim Frey (thCubs GM) is strong enough to soothe his wounds. "I could care less whether they win or lose," said Zimmer.

* IMPERTINENT QUESTIONS: By winning eight of his last ninstarts, has California's Mark Langston finally dumped his reputation as a .500 pitcher?

If Boogie and the (Merry-Go-Round) boys buy the team, will thOrioles and Oakland A's (Levi Strauss) play their games in blue jeans?

Whatever happened to Peter Ueberroth?

Exactly what was it that we didn't like about Bowie Kuhanyhow?

How much longer are the Orioles going to make Juan Bell suffer?

* ODDS 'N ENDINGS: Trade rumors and injuries haven't dulleOzzie Smith's defensive abilities. The Cardinals' whiz hasn't made an error in 57 games.

Ron Kittle's reaction to joining the White Sox for the third time: "never thought I should have left in the first place."

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