Although he stopped short of a full denial, general manager Dan O'Brien declined to discuss the possibility of California Angels manager Doug Rader's imminent dismissal, reported last night by ESPN.
"I don't want to comment on a non-issue one way or another," O'Brien said.
Just the day before, O'Brien told reporters that he was happy with Rader's performance "to this point."
ESPN reported that Rader would be fired by the last-place club either yesterday or today.
* REDS: The head of the major-league umpires' union demanded punishment yesterday for Cincinnati Reds manager Lou Piniella and threatened to sue him for defamation for accusing an umpire bias.
Richie Phillips, executive director of the umpires' union, asked // National League president Bill White to punish Piniella severely for calling umpire Gary Darling's integrity into question.
Piniella, who declined to comment yesterday, was in a combative mood Monday when informed that Phillips was planning to get involved.
"He's going to say I should be fined and suspended," Piniella said. "Fined and suspended for what? Because one of his umpires made a mistake? Let's get real. Let's live in the real world. This isn't la-la land."
Piniella became angry over one of Darling's calls Saturday night in the Reds' 7-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Darling overruled umpire Dutch Rennert, who had called the Reds' Bill Doran's ball a home run.Darling, the plate umpire, said the ball hooked in front of the foul screen, making it foul.
The next day, Piniella lashed out against Darling, saying: "I honestly feel that Darling has bias against us and won't give us a call all year."
* WHITE SOX: Bo Jackson, who suffered what was considered by some doctors a career-ending hip injury last January, took regular batting practice for the first time since joining the team.
Jackson took 10 swings the first time and five the second and last time. He hit some line drives and two deep fly balls.
Trainer Herm Schneider said Jackson is "right on schedule, but his strength is not where we would like to have it. Our goal is to have him ready to play sometime in September."