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NOTEBOOK : Sax Stays Off Steinbrenner-Bashing Bandwagon

July 11, 1990|ROSS NEWHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHICAGO — His selection as the American League starter at second base provided a bright moment in what former Dodger Steve Sax said has been a "very dismal and very difficult" first half for the New York Yankees.

"The organization has got to do something to better the club," he said, "and I think it will.

"The guys haven't given up. We all feel it will get better. It just can't get any worse."

He refused to comment on Sunday's dispute between Dodger vice president Fred Claire and Kirk Gibson, and refused to knock his current boss, George Steinbrenner, whose future as the Yankee owner rests with Commissioner Fay Vincent.

"A lot of people are jumping on the 'Get rid of George Steinbrenner' bandwagon," Sax said, "but I'm not one of them. The man has been fair to me. I'm not going to say anything bad about him."

Manager Jim Lefebvre of the Seattle Mariners coached third base for the American League with a severe case of laryngitis, his voice a mere whisper.

How did it happen?

"How does it happen to anyone?" Lefebvre said. "I talked too much."

Andre Dawson celebrated his 36th birthday and seventh All-Star game by receiving a new contract that could keep him in Chicago through the end of his career.

Dawson, in the last year of his Cub contract, was given a one-year deal worth a reported $3.3 million with an option year worth an equal amount.

"It's a very joyous occasion," said Dawson, who is batting .324 with 19 home runs and 57 runs batted in.

"The All-Star game being here in Chicago on my birthday . . . then having the contract situation resolved. It's one of those days in my career that will probably stand out."

The All-Star in the worst mood was Benito Santiago, the San Diego catcher voted into the starting lineup. He was sitting in the dugout wearing a frown and a complicated metal-and-tape splint on his left arm.

Santiago's arm was broken on June 14 by a pitch from All-Star reliever Jeff Brantley of the San Francisco Giants. It has become arguably the most costly injury in the major leagues this season.

Since he was injured, the Padres have dropped out of contention in the National League West, falling into fourth place, 13 1/2 games behind the leading Cincinnati Reds.

"This is bad, watching this All-Star game," Santiago said. "I make the team, I'm a regular and I can't play. I try to have some fun, but it is not good."

Santiago said he hopes to return to the Padres by Aug. 15. But club officials think it could be later.

Santiago's All-Star replacement, the Dodgers' Mike Scioscia, started and played seven innings, going hitless in two at-bats while the AL tied an All-Star game record with four stolen bases. But most of those were not Scioscia's fault, as there was little attempt by the NL pitchers to hold the runners on base.

Detroit's Cecil Fielder, showing the biggest smile of any All-Star, seemed grateful to be on the American League team even though has a major league-leading 28 homers and 75 RBIs.

Last season, playing for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, he did not make the all-star team there even though he had 29 homers and 67 RBIs at the break.

"They could only take two Americans from each league, and they decided to take Warren Cromartie and Larry Parrish from my league, instead," said Fielder, who would have earned an extra $100,000 for making the all-star team. "They really got me on that one."

Oakland A's outfielder Jose Canseco said he may hire a bodyguard to protect him from the hordes of fans who hound him everywhere he goes.

"The more I accomplish in the league and the more money I make, the worse it gets," said Canseco, who underscored his desire for privacy Tuesday by wearing a T-shirt with the warning: "Leave me alone."

"I had some people come to my hotel room in Cleveland at 3 o'clock in the morning the other day and try to kick my door down. When that happens, it's a little ridiculous. Maybe I should hire a bodyguard with a black belt. Other people have bodyguards. I met Eddie Murphy, and he had six guys who were bodyguards. They were h-u-u-u-u-g-e. They were so huge, even I was scared."

Canseco's neighbor in the American League locker room, Angel pitcher Chuck Finley, was amused by the crush of reporters surrounding the slugger every day. "The only thing is, they keep coming and coming," Finley said, "and there's so many, they just push me to the other end of the room."

Darryl Strawberry of the New York Mets said he wasn't bothered by his introduction before Monday's home run contest, when comedian Bill Murray declared that Strawberry was "clean" and "sober."

"It doesn't bother me at all," he said.

"I'm clean and sober, and all those people out there in the stands are drinking their lives away. I'm proud to be a recovering alcoholic, and I wouldn't take that back for anything."

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