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BASEBALL / ROSS NEWHAN : NAMES AND NUMBERS

* CHANGING OF THE GUARD: In a concession to his team’s status as the American League doormat and because of the need to develop young players, Detroit Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson has basically benched Alan Trammell to give former Long Beach State infielder Chris Gomez a one-month shot as the regular shortstop. Trammell will play shortstop one or two days a week and be designated hitter against left-handers.

“He’s 22 and we’re in last place,” Anderson said of Gomez. “What am I supposed to do, develop a 22-year-old or a 36-year-old? It’s time to find out if the kid can play every day.” Said Trammell: “I happen to be at the one position we have a young player who looks like he has some potential. I’m not so headstrong that I can’t look at all sides of things. I want this organization to do well after I’m gone.”

* INSULT? New York Yankee outfielder Paul O’Neill is leading the major leagues in hitting and challenging .500, but his name does not appear on the AL All-Star ballot. Yankee Manager Buck Showalter said he had four deserving outfielders--Danny Tartabull, Luis Polonia and Bernie Williams being the others--and put four sticks in a cup. O’Neill drew the short one.

“I lost fair and square,” O’Neill said. “It’s not that big a deal. I never get enough votes anyway.”

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* ADD YANKEES: They have had special assignment scout Dick Williams following Montreal Expo reliever Mel Rojas, and General Manager Gene Michael says something might happen soon. Rojas converted seven of eight save opportunities while John Wetteland was on the disabled list and got to like it so much that he asked to be traded when Wetteland returned.

* THE GANT WATCH: Baltimore Oriole owner Peter Angelos has reportedly decided to reopen his wallet in a pursuit of Ron Gant and a division crown in the formidable AL East. In his recovery from the broken leg that cost him his job with the Atlanta Braves, Gant is playing golf, batting in a cage, working out on a stationary bicycle and step machine and will begin running in June, agent Eric Goldschmidt said. He added that as many as 10 clubs have shown interest in his sidelined client. Angelos reportedly would pay $2.5 million for half a season.

* BAY BUSTS: It keeps getting worse for the Oakland Athletics, who had lost 20 of 22 games before a weekend series against the Kansas City Royals. Aside from the injuries that had put Mark McGwire, Steve Karsay and recently signed Steve Sax on the disabled list, Rickey Henderson was batting .210 when he too went on the DL Friday. In addition, Ruben Sierra was batting .207, including .182 with runners in scoring position. “They’ve been missing in action the last few weeks,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said of Henderson and Sierra.

* VINTAGE YEARS: The St. Louis Cardinals’ Bob Tewksbury (7-0) won only 21 games before he was 30. He has 51 victories in the three years since then. “If life keeps getting this good, I can’t wait until I’m 70,” he said.


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