Otis Nixon's attempt to shorten his drug suspension from 60 days to time served was turned down yesterday by George Nicolau, baseball's permanent arbitrator.
Nixon, a 32-year-outfielder with the Atlanta Braves, was suspended by commissioner Fay Vincent on Sept. 16 after testing positive for cocaine. He missed the final 21 days of the regular season, the National League playoffs and the World Series. Nicolau's ruling means Nixon also will miss the first 18 days of the 1992 season.
Nicolau issued an expedited decision at the request of the Major League Baseball Players Association. His one-sentence statement said: "The commissioner's action in suspending Otis Nixon for 60 days was for just cause."
* PIRATES: Barry Bonds said he expects to be traded and he indicated he wouldn't mind if he ended up with the Mets and his friend Bobby Bonilla.
"I'd like to go to California, but that's not the only door opening," Bonds said. "Bobby's in New York. Why wouldn't I want to play in New York?"
The Pirates are negotiating with Bonds' agent, Rod Wright, on a multi-year contract. Pirates general manager Larry Doughty said the team opened discussions with a figure "in the area of our offer to Bonilla," which would be about $23 million.
Wright said the offer was unacceptable, partly because of Doughty's statements that Bonds was a better player than Bonilla and should get more money.
The Yankees said Wednesday that they would be interested in Bonds if the Pirates decide to trade him. Whitey Herzog, the Angels' vice president of player personnel, acknowledged he also would be interested.
Herzog said, "Everyone knows Bonds can get $6 million a year."
* METS: Al Jackson, fired by the Orioles after Baltimore's pitching staff finished last in the American League with a 4.59 ERA, was hired as a minor-league pitching instructor by the New York team where he spent 16 years early in his career.
After three years with the Orioles, Jackson joins friend Tom McCraw, who also came up through the Mets organization. McCraw left the Orioles to serve as first-base coach and hitting instructor.
Meanwhile, Dwight Gooden continued his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery, throwing a baseball for the first time since undergoing surgery in September. He played catch with former team trainer Larry Mayol for five minutes and said he didn't experience any discomfort in his right arm.
"It was a good first day. It went by quick," said Gooden, who plans to gradually increase his throwing in the weeks ahead to get ready for spring training.
* ANGELS: Left-hander Chuck Finley underwent successful corrective foot surgery on the big toe of his left foot, which had troubled him last season, and is expected to be ready to play by the start of spring training.
* RED SOX: Jeff Gray is making improvement in his recovery from a mild stroke he suffered in July. The right-handed pitcher is walking unlimited distances, jogging for 10 to 15 minutes and practicing his throwing on a daily basis.