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Baseball / Ross Newhan : Lasorda Is Among Those Baffled by Reardon-for-Heaton Deal

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Tom Lasorda heard about it while attending a banquet in Niles, Ohio. Even for an epicurean like Lasorda, who will open his own restaurant Feb. 15 in Marina del Rey, it was hard to digest.

How could the Montreal Expos trade relief ace Jeff Reardon to the Minnesota Twins for Neal Heaton, whose major league record is 39-56?

“I was with (Texas Ranger Manager) Bobby Valentine, (Cleveland Indian Manager) Pat Corrales and (Pittsburgh Pirate Manager) Jim Leyland,” Lasorda said. “None of us could figure it out. It was a real surprise.

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“I mean, where do you find a guy with 70 saves in two years. I don’t understand it.

“The Twins made an outstanding trade.”

The Dodgers had tried for a similar steal at the December baseball meetings, reportedly offering Rick Honeycutt and/or Alejandro Pena and/or Gilberto Reyes for Reardon.

The Expos asked for Orel Hershiser, ending the talks.

“Reardon wasn’t our priority,” Lasorda said. “Ever since we lost Steve Howe, we’ve needed a left -handed relief pitcher to set up the right-handed hitters. Now, we feel we’ve filled that need with Matt Young. Bill Buckner called me and said, ‘Tommy, I just can’t hit that guy.’ ”

Still . . .

Reardon for Heaton?

“I couldn’t believe it, but I can’t worry about the furniture in someone else’s house,” Lasorda said.

Reardon actually registered a major league-leading 76 saves over the last two years. He and Goose Gossage are the only relievers with 20 or more saves in each of the last five years. The Expos, having already lost Tim Raines and Andre Dawson to free agency, dumped another $575,000 by trading Reardon.

The Expos believe they can replace Reardon with a committee of Tim Burke, 9-7 and 4 saves; Randy St. Claire, 2-0 and 1 save, and Andy McGaffigan, 10-5 and 2 saves. They also figure they had to strengthen a starting staff that may remain without Bryn Smith and Joe Hesketh, both still questionable because of 1986 injuries.

The Expos got Heaton, 26, on the recommendation of George Bamberger, former Milwaukee manager hired by Montreal recently as a pitching consultant.

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“I think he’s ready to be good,” Bamberger said of Heaton, who gave up 26 homers en route to a 7-15 record in ’86 and should definitely benefit by the move to Olympic Stadium, where there were 100 homers hit last year contrasted with 223 in the Metrodome.

In Toronto last week, only a snow storm or two away from Montreal, the Blue Jays seemed to make a similarly strange move, trading Damaso Garcia, an All-Star second baseman, to Atlanta for pitcher Craig McMurtry, who was 1-6 last year.

The Blue Jays, however, had soured on Garcia because of his lack of range on their artificial surface, his defensive passiveness, which reportedly disturbed the pitching staff, and a seemingly bad attitude that set in when Garcia was removed from the leadoff role at the start of last season.

Garcia’s contract for $1.6 million over the next two years didn’t enhance his status with the Blue Jays, who even tossed in Luis Leal and $400,000 to stimulate Atlanta’s interest.

One of four young prospects--Mike Sharperson, Manny Lee, Nelson Liniano or Santiago Garcia--will replace Garcia, whose acquisition by the Braves has reportedly left veteran second baseman Glenn Hubbard expendable.

Both the Oakland A’s and the Angels, looking for an experienced second baseman to platoon with Rob Wilfong for a year if Mark McLemore isn’t ready, are believed interested in Hubbard.

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Peter O’Malley asks why the Dodgers would want Raines when they already have a center fielder in Ken Landreaux.

Well, aside from Raines’ proven offensive abilities, consider that in his seven full seasons in the majors, Raines has contributed 202 outfield assists. Landreaux has 52 assists in 10 seasons.

The Dodgers may ultimately replace Landreaux with Gary Redus, but a trade for the Philadelphia Phillie outfielder hinges on Pena’s proving in spring training that he is sound.

Still without an offer elsewhere, catcher Bob Boone confides that the Angels told him that their final, $883,000 offer “would remain on the table,” presumably meaning that it will be there for the taking if he remains unsigned on May 1, when he is eligible to re-sign with his former club.

“It’s nice to fall back on but it’s not my first choice,” Boone said. “I want to have a job and go to spring training.”

And if there is no job?

“I’ve had too many good things happen in my life and career. I’ll never have bitterness,” Boone said.

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Baseball Notes

Show of class: Toronto General Manager Pat Gillick flew to the Dominican Republic so that he could take Damaso Garcia to dinner and tell him personally that a trade was imminent. The Braves have given Garcia uniform No. 5, formerly worn by now unemployed free agent Bob Horner.

Of the turmoil that has beset his World Series champion New York Mets this winter, Manager Davey Johnson said: “Everybody is trying to put us on the front page. Let’s try to avoid being on the front page unless we hit a home run or pitch a shutout. It’s all right to be highly competitive on the field, but let’s try to be less competitive off the field.”

The Angels, having left the door open regarding a pursuit of free agents Lance Parrish and Tim Raines, shut it during an organizational meeting last week. General Manager Mike Port said that the club decided to continue to build from within and through trade, that free agency was a viable option only if the circumstances were right, but that those circumstances don’t currently exist. Translation: Having released their last salaried millionaire in Reggie Jackson, the Angels won’t take on another in Parrish or Raines.

The St. Louis Cardinals, like the Phillies before them, have asked Parrish for the medical records concerning his back. Parrish rejected Philadelphia’s $1-million offer for ‘87, attorney Tom Reich calling it “pitifully inadequate.” Those negotiations may not be finished, however. . . . Clark Griffith, Calvin’s son and a lawyer in Minneapolis, will represent the Angels in next week’s arbitration hearings with Gary Pettis and Dick Schofield.

One general manager, asking anonymity, predicts that arbitrator Tom Roberts, currently hearing the union’s collusion grievance against the owners, will ultimately void the current free-agent system and order both sides to create a new one. . . . The Texas Rangers, a surprising second in the American League West last year, have sold 5,200 season tickets, a club record. . . . The Cardinals’ switch-hitting Willie McGee, who had postseason surgery on his left knee, doesn’t expect to be able to hit from the left side until after spring training.

Nolan Ryan hasn’t thrown all winter and won’t know until later this month whether his ailing elbow will allow him to take a regular turn as Houston Astros’ No. 3 starter or force him to become the spot or No. 5 starter. . . . Said Ken Phelps, the Mariners’ designated hitter: “You have to wonder how much the Mariners really want to win. You have to question those trades. They gave up 96 RBIs and 25 home runs (sending Danny Tartabull to Kansas City) for a No. 3 starter (Scott Bankhead) and an unproven player (Mike Kingery). If you’re going to pinch pennies, you shouldn’t be in this business. The Mariners have never played .500 ball in their history. That should tell you something about this franchise. I think, ideally, that the owner (George Argyros) would like to have a .500 club and also the lowest payroll in baseball.”

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The Orioles will meet with free agent Ron Guidry Tuesday. Guidry is also being pursued by the Twins, whose acquisition of Reardon is said to have stimulated Guidry’s previously dormant interest in that club. If signed by the Orioles, Guidry would join Scott McGregor, Mike Flanagan and Eric Bell as the rotation’s fourth southpaw. . . . Where does it end? Dave Parker, guaranteed $2.4 million over the next two years, says he will be happy to move to first base if the Cincinnati Reds renegotiate his contract. And Wade Boggs responds to the signing of a three-year, $5-million plus contract with the Boston Red Sox by saying he no longer wants to bat leadoff, that he would prefer batting third. Manager John McNamara irritatedly replied that Boggs’ desire to hit third depends on how Buckner, his current No. 3, recovers from ankle surgery. . . . Former Angel reliever Mark Clear, who had a strong season for the Milwaukee Brewers after his career appeared to be languishing in Boston, is preparing for the future as co-owner of a nursery in Fullerton. Clear has expanded from 8 to 60 acres and would like to stay closer to the operation by returning to the Angels.

Ron Cey has strengthened his hold on the distinction of being the player with the most distinguished career continually traded for little-known players. First the Dodgers traded Cey to the Chicago Cubs for Dan Cataline and Vance Lovelace. Now the Cubs have traded him to Oakland for Luis Quinones. Only Lovelace boasts a degree of notoriety, and that because he was with Dwight Gooden on the night that Gooden scuffled with the Tampa police.

Can Cey, unhappy with his part-time role in Chicago, be satisfied as a platoon designated hitter in Oakland? Cey, in a recent interview, reflected on the probability that he would soon become one and said, “I’ve talked to a few guys and they say it’s difficult, but what I did this year was difficult, too, playing once every 10 days or not having any workouts, playing two or three days and then sitting down for five, any number of crazy situations. I’d much rather be listed as the DH and know it rather than not know if I’m going to play today or 10 days or two weeks from now.”

Keith Moreland, in the meantime, will move from right field to become the Cub third baseman. “I’ve played 900 games in the majors at five positions and third base is one of them,” he said. “I’m not afraid of it, but people are going to have to give me time if they expect me to be a Brooks Robinson. In fact, I’ll never be a Brooks Robinson.”

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