Commissioner Fay Vincent said yesterday that George Steinbrenner might have hurt his reinstatement effort by writing a letter to his fellow club owners four weeks ago.
Steinbrenner has been trying for the last three months to set up a meeting with Vincent so they could discuss his possible return as New York Yankees managing partner. But the commissioner has told the owner that there would be no meeting until two lawsuits that Steinbrenner instigated were dropped.
Asked yesterday if the ground rules were the same, Vincent said, "I'm not going to get into that, but I don't think the letter was helpful."
Although Vincent has not said so, lawyers involved with him have indicated that he is growing weary of some of Steinbrenner's actions, suchas the letter and his periodic threats to sue the commissioner.
Steinbrenner wrote the three-paragraph letter to the owners of the other 25 major-league clubs Feb. 28. Although some owners found the letter puzzling and unclear, Steinbrenner seemed to be asking for their help in his effort to return, and he also appeared to suggest that he was planning to file a lawsuit against Vincent.
* MARINERS: Vincent says he doubts the issue of whether the club should be sold to a Japanese-led group can be settled by Opening Day, April 6. Vincent said he has reached a recommendation on the proposed sale, but wouldn't elaborate.
* ATHLETICS: NBC sportscaster Bob Costas got an unexpected birthday gift -- a chance to manage Oakland. The gift was arranged by Costas' wife through A's officials.
When he arrived at the exhibition game between Seattle and Oakland at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, A's manager Tony La Russa gave Costas a birthday card. There was also a greeting saying Costas was the manager for a day.
* INDIANS: First baseman Reggie Jefferson, 23, is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprain of the medial collateral ligament of his left elbow.
A Magnetic Resonance Imaging test performed on Jefferson revealed the injury, which has kept him from playing most of the spring.