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Baseball / Daily Report

Belle's Final Cut: Two Games, $25,000

June 21, 1996|Associated Press

Albert Belle's suspension was reduced yet again Thursday--this time from three games to two.

American League President Gene Budig, saying the "focus must return to the field," agreed to a deal proposed earlier in the day by the players' union, which had threatened to sue over the penalty handed the Cleveland Indian outfielder.

Budig originally imposed a five-game suspension for Belle's forearm hit on Milwaukee second baseman Fernando Vina during a baseline collision May 31. Budig cut the ban to three games after a hearing last week.

He agreed to a union compromise calling for a two-game suspension and $25,000 fine, the highest amount handed out by a league president. Belle will sit out the two games today, when Cleveland is at home for a split doubleheader against New York.

"Although the league president has taken action against me that he would not take against any other player, it is time for me to put the interests of my teammates, the Indians, and the fans of Cleveland ahead of my own," Belle said in a statement.

Belle's suspension is now the smallest of the three stemming from the incident. Cleveland pitcher Julian Tavarez had his five-game suspension for flipping umpire Joe Brinkman reduced to three games. Milwaukee catcher Mike Matheny, who charged the mound after Tavarez whistled a fastball behind his neck, also had his five-game suspension cut to three.

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Philadelphia Phillie outfielder Lenny Dykstra will have major back surgery and will sit out at least the rest of the season, and former catcher Darren Daulton is coming back, not in left field but at first base. Current first baseman Gregg Jefferies will be moved to the outfield or another position.

Dykstra, who sat out much of last season and has been on the disabled list since May 21, said he would have surgery for spinal stenosis within two to three weeks.

"[The doctors are] saying they can make my back better, but they have no idea how much," Dykstra said. "Obviously, they're not going to give me the back of a 20-year-old. It's risky. Any time you have back surgery, there's a chance of things going bad. But right now they've said my back's like a 50- or 60-year-old's back."

Daulton, who has been on the disabled list since April 7 because of right knee problems, had to talk the Phillies into letting him play first base. He met earlier Thursday with owner Bill Giles, General Manager Lee Thomas and Manager Jim Fregosi.

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Seattle Mariner center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. had surgery on the broken bone in his right hand suffered Wednesday night on an awkward swing.

The team said Griffey would sit out about a month, but similar injuries to other players have forced them to sit out as much as 10 weeks.

"Ken's right hand has been placed in a splint and he should be able to begin the rehabilitation process in two weeks," said team physician Larry Pedegana, who expects "a full and complete recovery."

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New York Met pitcher Bill Pulsipher, catcher Todd Hundley and outfielder Chris Jones were involved in a single-car accident early Thursday morning.

The players were en route home after arriving back from Wednesday night's doubleheader in Pittsburgh. Pulsipher, who was driving, hit a pole while exiting the Cross Island Parkway.

"Thank God nobody was hurt," said Pulsipher, who is sitting out the season after elbow surgery. "I have a few burns on my forehead and face as a result of the air bag opening up, but that's the extent of it."

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Relief pitcher Mike Remlinger is still on the Cincinnati Reds' roster. The Reds said Wednesday they had designated the left-hander for assignment to the minors, but Thursday the team said the announcement was in error. . . . The Houston Astros put outfielder Derrick May on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right hamstring and recalled James Mouton from triple-A Tucson.

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