Cleveland officials are considering ways of fitting potential free agent Roberto Alomar into their budget for next season. Under one possible scenario, Alomar would play second, Carlos Baerga would move to third, Jim Thome would play first. The Indians would use the money spent on designated hitter Eddie Murray this year ($3 million) toward signing Alomar next year. That would give the Indians four Gold Glovers in their middle defense -- in Alomar, short stop Omar Vizquel, center fielder Kenny Lofton and catcher Sandy Alomar.
* You can bet that if Murray leaves Cleveland, the Orioles would be the first to bid on him, giving him back No. 33 and providing a chance for him to hit his 500th career homer in a Baltimore uniform.
* Several other teams scanned the Orioles' roster to consider a trade for a pitcher in the past two weeks, but found that the club had not been able to get waivers on right-handers Kevin Brown and Scott Erickson. Boston has been blocking many AL teams from consummating trades by making waiver claims.
* The Texas Rangers' Mickey Tettleton hurt his knee (torn cartilage) making diving catches in the outfield, but he continues to play. "I've got a blown tire," he said. "It's no big deal. As long as I can go out there, I'll play. It won't take away from my speed, because I never had much anyway. . . . I'll keep playing as long as I'm not hurting the team."
* The Dodgers are laying some blame for Hideo Nomo's recent slump on the media. "I think [Nomo] is doing too much," said Dodgers right fielder Raul Mondesi. "A half-hour before the game, he's got 10 people around the locker. People have got to leave him alone."
* When Minnesota right-hander Brad Radke beat Texas with a 101-pitch complete game last week, he barely missed matching Mike Mussina's 100-pitch victory over Cleveland on May 17 -- the fewest pitches required for a nine-inning effort in the AL this year.
* Indians right fielder Manny Ramirez has run to first base three times on a three-ball count, and twice he has remained at the plate after drawing a walk. This is not the best example of situational hitting. Pirates vice president of marketing Steve Greenberg has shown a sense of humor during what has been a very dismal year for attendance at Three Rivers Stadium. One Pirates ad read: "Our marketing department's exhaustive research has concluded that our low attendance figures may be due in large part to uncomfortable seating. Please remember to fold the seat down. Thank you." Another, before a Pirates-Reds series: "A BUNCH OF SNARLING, RUTHLESS, CUTTHROAT SEAFARING BANDITS VERSUS A PRIMARY COLOR."
* The White Sox are denying rumors that they attempted to trade third baseman Robin Ventura to Los Angeles. Of course, they denied rumors that manager Gene Lamont, unemployed for three months now, was going to be fired.
* Seattle, says Boston manager Kevin Kennedy, will win the AL wild card. He said nothing about his former employers, the Rangers.
* San Diego general manager Randy Smith noted that "every team in the playoffs might be from the old NL West." He's right. Cincinnati and Atlanta are winning their respective divisions, and Los Angeles, Colorado and San Diego are in the running for the wild card.
* Clemens said that if the Red Sox win the World Series this year (stop laughing, please), then he'll likely retire.
Former Orioles farmhand Vaughn Eshelman came up with a case of stiffness in his left shoulder this week, at a time when Boston was desperately looking for a way to replace Eshelman on the postseason roster. What a coincidence.
* Even Chicago catcher Ron Karkovice is expressing concern over the disappearing act of right-hander Jason Bere, hit for six runs in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday. "For some reason, he just wasn't throwing his fastball," Karkovice said. "Two pitches right down the middle -- probably 82-83 mph -- guys just turned on them. Some guys thought they were changeups. I don't know if he was hurting or just taking something off his fastball."
* Dave Burba's ERA at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium is 0.00 -- no runs in 36 2/3 innings. "Yeah, I'm aware of it," he said, "but we won't talk about it. I like the mound, it is easy to pick up the catcher's target, and all I have to do with this team is let them put the ball in play and somebody will run it down."
Can Ayala bounce back?
Norm Charlton has taken over from Bobby Ayala as Seattle's closer, but before the year's over, the Mariners will need Ayala to step up and get out tough right-handed hitters in the late innings. Seattle doesn't have enough depth to survive otherwise.
* Maybe it was the absence of Jeff Bagwell. Or perhaps the Craig McMurtry Factor. Either way, the Astros floundered, losing 11 straight at one point. Houston went 4-12 in its first 16 games after former replacement player McMurtry was promoted.
* Earlier this year, Reds GM Jim Bowden offered to trade any prospect in the Cincinnati farm system for Cleveland left-hander Alan Embree.