The Pittsburgh Pirates, who have lost one marquee player to free agency and are on the verge of losing another, may be nearing a four-year, $20 million deal for 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek.
General manager Ted Simmons, with the Pirates in Chicago on Sunday, said he has concluded negotiations with Drabek's agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks. Simmons has passed on a proposal to board chairman Douglas Danforth, who must approve all such deals.
With Bobby Bonilla already gone and Barry Bonds likely to leave after this season, Simmons said that signing Drabek -- the Pirates' No. 1 starter for four years -- is his No. 1 priority.
Drabek has 37 victories for the Pirates the past two seasons and is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in his first four starts this season.
* The baseball that flew into the stands when Babe Ruth hit his record-setting 60th home run in 1927 is finally leaving the family of the fan who caught it.
George Siegel, who inherited the ball from his father in 1977, said the ball will be auctioned Saturday in San Francisco.
Siegel said his father, Herb, then 14 years old, caught the ball in the right-field stands at Yankee Stadium in what he described as a mad scramble on Sept. 30, 1927.
Ruth offered his father $5 and another baseball, Siegel said. "Dad wanted to take it," Siegel said, but his uncle wouldn't let him.
* Amos Otis, who batted .277 during his 17-year major-league career, said he used a corked bat about half the time.
"It helped me a great deal," Otis said in a story in The Mobile (Alabama) Press.
Otis, 44, said he wasn't the only one who used a hollowed-out bat filled with cork or other substances. Hitters believe the illegal bats have more spring.
"Back then, a lot of people did it, and very seldom did anybody get caught," he said. "The only people I know who got caught were Graig Nettles and Toby Harrah. They had an idea about me, but I never got caught so they couldn't prove it."