* Gold Medal: John Hoover became the 17th member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic baseball team to reach the major leagues when he pitched in relief for the Texas Rangers Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers. Hoover, however, was sent back to Oklahoma City Saturday. Of the 20 Olympians in ’84, only three failed to play in the majors and each is out of baseball. They are: pitcher Sid Akins, the Rangers’ third-round draft choice from USC; catcher Bob Caffrey, the Montreal Expos’ first-round pick from Cal State Fullerton; and second baseman Flavio Alfaro, the Atlanta Braves’ fourth-round selection from San Diego State.

* Wallach Wallop: Expo third baseman Tim Wallach had 26 hits in 66 at-bats in his last 17 games through Thursday, including eight home runs, six doubles and 23 runs batted in. “I had a streak in ’87 when it seemed like I had a run batted in every at-bat, but I’ve never had a home run stroke like this,” said Wallach, who has been particularly damaging to the San Diego Padres, going nine for 14 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in their last three meetings.

* Stat Wars: The comparison between baseball’s two best outfields doesn’t start and stop with their statistics, but in that regard it’s a virtual standoff. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfield of Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke was batting a cumulative .307 through Thursday with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs. The Oakland A’s outfield of Jose Canseco and the Hendersons, Rickey and Dave, was batting .311 with 28 home runs and 78 RBIs.


* Mismanaged: Jeff Russell saved 38 games for the Rangers last season, but his use by Manager Bobby Valentine this year has been open to question. Valentine has used Russell in three tie games and five games in which Texas was trailing. The back-breaker was April 30, when Russell, who has seven saves, was allowed to make 43 pitches and work three innings of a tie game against the Chicago White Sox. Since then, he has allowed six earned runs and 12 hits in six innings in eight games. And now Russell is nursing a sore elbow stemming from bone spurs.

* Odds and . . . : A’s relief ace Dennis Eckersley continues to exhibit remarkable control. Eckersley has faced 149 batters since issuing his last walk, last August. He is 13 for 13 in 1990 save opportunities and has allowed one run in 19 1/3 innings this year. . . . Of Ken Griffey Jr.'s 26 major league home runs, 21 have tied games or put the Seattle Mariners ahead. . . . The Houston Astros, with their touted pitching and defense, were the only major league team without a complete game until Mike Scott pitched one Saturday. The Astros lead the NL in unearned runs allowed. Houston’s starting pitchers have an 8-18 record, failing to get through the sixth inning in 26 of 43 games. . . . The recall of Shawn Boskie, 23, gave the Chicago Cubs six pitchers 25 or younger. The others: Mike Harkey, Greg Maddux, Mitch Williams, Jeff Pico and Steve Wilson. . . . The Braves went into Friday’s game against the Phillies at Philadelphia with a May record of 11-10 and a shot at their first winning month since May 1987.

* . . . Ends: Jeff Torborg, in his second year as manager of the Chicago White Sox, continues to do it with mirrors. Three of the regular White Sox infielders--Carlos Martinez, Scott Fletcher and Robin Ventura--were hitting .195, .192, and .138, respectively, through Thursday. . . . The disintegration of the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation continues. Mike Flanagan has been released, John Cerutti sent to the bullpen with a 1-5 record and Jimmy Key is sidelined by a pulled hamstring and strained earned-run average of 5.80. The decision to move 230-pound David Wells into a starting role prompted George Bell to cite the once-every-five-days’ work schedule and say: “He’ll weigh 300 pounds by the end of the year.” . . . Add Wells: When he was at triple-A Syracuse, the Blue Jays fined the team trainer for failing to carry a scale on the road so that he could be weighed regularly. . . . Marty Barrett, displaced when Jody Reed was moved to second base, has asked the Boston Red Sox to trade him. Barrett displayed his frustration the other day by engaging coach Richie Hebner in a shouting match, prompting Hebner to say he was not Barrett’s baby-sitter. . . . In his first 101 games with the Rangers, Harold Baines drove in 31 runs and hit .191 with runners in scoring position. “It’s one of the great mysteries of our game,” a disappointed Valentine said.