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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT

Associated Press

John Allen, who’s taking over the Cincinnati Reds for the next two months, said he’s going to work on putting the focus back on the field.

Allen, the team controller, said he would stage more promotions--a major break with owner Marge Schott’s philosophy--and try to increase attendance.

Allen was appointed interim chief executive Wednesday as part of an agreement under which Schott surrendered daily control of the ball club through the 1998 season.

Allen declined to talk about Schott, except to credit her with maintaining the Reds’ financial stability as revenue declined during and after the baseball strike.

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He said he realizes his time at the top will be short, but that he can get some things accomplished.

“I’m not a puppet here,” he said. “I will be making decisions, and some changes will be made.

“I think I can make games at Riverfront Stadium a little more fun and exciting for the fan. Let’s get some fannies in the seats.”

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Albert Belle was back at baseball’s New York headquarters Thursday, this time trying to convince American League President Gene Budig not to suspend him for five games.

The hearing, which could result in Belle’s fifth suspension in six years, is scheduled to conclude today. Budig’s ruling on the appeal isn’t expected until next week at the earliest.

The five-game penalty stems from Belle’s fight May 31 with Milwaukee second baseman Fernando Vina, who is accusing the players’ union of backing the Cleveland outfielder over him.

“I feel like they’re trying to get me to change my story,” Vina was quoted as saying in Thursday’s editions of the New York Daily News. “Anybody who knows the game knows it was a cheap shot. But he’s the big-money player, and so they’re trying to back him now. That’s horrible.”

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Colorado Rocky right-hander Bill Swift underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery and will be sidelined at least four weeks. Since making his season debut on June 3 and pitching 3 1/3 innings at Pittsburgh, Swift has not been able to pull his arm back to throw without feeling discomfort in the back of his shoulder. . . . The St. Louis Cardinals activated closer Dennis Eckersley from a rare stint on the 15-day disabled list in time for Thursday night’s game against New York. In 22 seasons, Eckersley, 41, has been injured only three times. Inflammation in his right elbow has kept him on the sideline for close to a month. . . . The Texas Rangers put first baseman Will Clark on the 15-day disabled list and activated Kurt Stillwell, who started at second base Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox. Clark has a pulled left quadriceps muscle. . . . Jay Buhner of the Seattle Mariners may have to go on the disabled list because of a badly sprained right thumb.


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