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BASEBALL EXTRA | AROUND THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

Some Scraps, Tidbits From Buffet Table

May 18, 1997|ROSS NEWHAN

The enemy within? It seems that way. A still young season has produced a surprising number of incidents of internal combustion.

There was the shouting match between Eric Karros and Ismael Valdes of the Dodgers and another between Rod Carew and Jorge Fabregas of the Angels.

And in the National League last week, rookies Kevin Orie and Ramon Tatis of the Chicago Cubs traded punches on a team bus for reasons that have not been divulged; Deion Sanders and Bret Boone of the Cincinnati Reds had to be separated by teammates in the clubhouse when Boone, for the second time this season, complained that Sanders' Ali shuffle on the basepaths was putting teammates in danger of being thrown at by opposing pitchers; and St. Louis Cardinal players sniped at Manager Tony La Russa when he shut down the postgame buffet after Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The latest Deion Dance did, indeed, produce an exchange of knockdown pitches between San Diego's Sterling Hitchcock, who flattened Sanders, and Mike Morgan, who retaliated against Hitchcock.

Sanders, of course, was unrepentant.

"I don't even know who Sterling Hitchcock is," he said. "I thought he was Alfred's kid."

Cardinal players were upset not only by the loss of food, but by La Russa's implication that the offense was to blame for the 3-2 loss.

"He shouldn't eat either because he messed up the game," an unidentified player said of La Russa's decision to replace Andy Benes in the Phillies' three-run eighth inning with Lance Painter, who was just off the disabled list and walked two batters in the decisive rally.

The Cardinals, however, came back to win, 12-3, on Wednesday night, and Ron Gant said, "I had a big breakfast today, in case I didn't get to eat again tonight."

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The clubhouse buffet is a budget delight for the players. They get "only" $67 a day for meal and tip money on the road.

Then again, in many cities, it's tough to find anything more than fast food after night games.

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Greg Vaughn of the Padres also was sniping this week. The slumping outfielder, signed to a three-year, $15-million contract during the winter, took on abusive fans in San Diego.

"If someone has something to say, be a man and don't whisper over in the corner or up in the 15th seat behind the left-[field] bleachers," Vaughn said. "Be a man. I'll meet you in the parking lot, you know what I mean? I've gotten more [abuse] than I've ever gotten in my whole life."

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From owner Peter Magowan of the San Francisco Giants: "People will know if the Giants are here to stay during a 45-day period starting May 27. We play every top team during that span."

Not every top team, but they do play the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers from the American League West, along with the National League's best. The Giants remain a factor despite a league-low batting average.

Although Barry Bonds has struggled, he continues to be walked repeatedly, and Manager Dusty Baker said, "They're going to be careful with Barry until the day he dies. They're going to be careful with Barry in old-timers' games."

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