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BASEBALL
Peter Gammons
April 21, 1986
THE PADRES' STRENGTH IS IN THEIR PITCHING
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April 21, 1986

Baseball

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Granted the Players Association is more like the AMA than the United Mine Workers, but it's getting more and more difficult to find players willing to take on the important job of player representative. CHARLIE HOUGH was elected in absentia by the Rangers, then refused to accept the job, saying, "I'm anti-union." In Kansas City, DANNY JACKSON got the job because he wasn't at the selection meeting. Meanwhile, the drug-testing clauses owners are putting in contracts are turning out to be more public relations than substance. The Player Relations Committee admitted that the clauses in non-guaranteed contracts are unenforceable, so approximately 400 of the much-publicized 450 drug-testing clauses are meaningless....

Astros G.M. DICK WAGNER and new manager HAL LANIER didn't even make it to Opening Day without a difference of opinion. Lanier wanted to keep veteran reliever AURELIO LOPEZ , but he would have cost Houston its first draft choice because he is a Type A free agent. So Wagner released him....

Astros minor league pitcher MARK KNUDSON also ran afoul of Wagner in spring training. Knudson, who doubles as a sportswriter, had written a story on Nolan Ryan ("I got great quotes") for The Rocky Mountain News and had transmitted the piece from the club's P.R. office. But Wagner banned him from the office. An underling told Knudson, "You've got no business in that room. You might overhear something you're not supposed to."...

For those who question Montreal's acquisition of JASON THOMPSON , consider that the Pirates are paying $1.5 million of the $2 million owed him for the 1986 and '87 seasons. The Expos want to take some pressure off rookie ANDRES (THE GIANT) GALARRAGA, who was over-swinging all spring, and they figure that if he and Thompson get 15 homers and 80 RBIs between them, they will have gotten adequate production. In their second game of the season, the duo combined for four hits and five RBIs.

JIM FREY SAYS, MOVE OVER, OZZIE SMITH

Cubs manager JIM FREY says SHAWON DUNSTON "could be the best shortstop in the National League." Better than OZZIE SMITH ? "His range is equal to Ozzie's and his arm is stronger," says Frey. At this time last year, they were comparing Dunston to OSSIE CHAVARRIA....

The legend of BUDDY BIANCALANA was dealt a blow when he was benched on Opening Day in favor of recently acquired ARGENIS SALAZAR, whose .166 career average falls short of Biancalana's lusty .194. "I think he'll hit a little more," says Royals manager DICK HOWSER , who foresees Salazar emerging as a decent offensive player....

The Royals' RUDY LAW recently joined the flock of Jehovah's Witnesses, which also includes Detroit's CHET LEMON and LOU WHITAKER and JERRY HAIRSTON of the White Sox. They all refuse to come out and stand for the National Anthem. "For the National Anthem, you worship the flag," Law explains. "I don't want to live like that."...

The Angels can't find out what's wrong with JOHN CANDELARIA 's elbow. "All I know is that it doesn't feel good," said Candelaria after a two-inning debut against Seattle. "The X rays show nothing, but it must be something." His manager, GENE MAUCH , hoped he could pitch on guts alone. "I've had a lot of veterans who would move that bone chip around and keep pitching," said Mauch. "I told him, don't let it hurt."...

Jeff Leonard now wants to be known as Jeffrey Leonard. "I'm 30 years old, and my mother still calls me Jeffrey," he said.

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