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BASEBALL EXTRA | AROUND THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

He Isn't Clark, but This Kent on Super Pace

May 25, 1997|ROSS NEWHAN

With Matt Williams in Cleveland and Barry Bonds hitting inconsistently, second baseman Jeff Kent has picked up some of the offensive slack for the San Francisco Giants, whose grand start stems in part from Kent's grand slams. He is tied for third in the league in runs batted in and has already hit three slams, two more than any other National Leaguer.

Kent hit 21 homers with the New York Mets in 1993 and 20 in 1995, but does he have one of those majestic, home run swings?

"Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, they've got pretty swings," said Kent, who was obtained in the trade that sent Williams to the Indians. "I played with a lot of guys--Bobby Bonilla, Dave Winfield, Joe Carter, Robbie Alomar--they all have pretty swings.

"Me? I have one of those who-the-hell- knows? kinda swings. Some days it looks pretty. Some days it's not worth a bowl of free soup."

So far it's been mm, mm, good. Kent has already tied a franchise record for grand slams in a season. The last Giant to hit three was Willie McCovey, in 1967.

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The Florida Marlins are known to be one of several clubs that asked the Dodgers if they would be willing to sell their Dominican Republic academy independent of their other properties, but "we felt each of the pieces were essential to the whole and it made a lot more sense" to sell it as a package, a Dodger source said.

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Rupert Murdoch's tentacles reach deep into the pocketbooks of virtually every major league club, making for a complex relationship if approved, as expected, as owner of the Dodgers. Fox Sports, Fox Sports Net, FX and Fox Sports regional networks--which include Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2--televise roughly a quarter of all major league games played and roughly a third of all games televised.

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Philadelphia Phillie hitting coach Hal McRae, the former Kansas City Royal manager, is being mentioned as a possible successor to Ray Knight if the Cincinnati Reds' manager is fired. McRae was the Reds' batting coach last year but was reportedly let go because Knight felt threatened by McRae's close relationship with the players.

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The Colorado Rockies finished a 3-10 trip Thursday in which three starting pitchers went on the disabled list, they fell from a division lead of 2 1/2 games to two behind the Giants in second place, and questions about their road ineptitude of 1966 resurfaced after they had seemed to deal with those questions by going 8-4 on the road in April. Colorado pitchers simply couldn't throw strikes. They walked 52 batters in the last nine games of the trip, twice walking 12. Said Manager Don Baylor: "That's almost impossible to do."

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The Pittsburgh Pirates' surprising start is about to be wiped out by injuries to three key players. Shortstop Kevin Elster (broken wrist) and center fielder Jermaine Allensworth (broken hand) are out for extended periods, and left fielder Al Martin went on the 15-day disabled list because of a hand injury Thursday.

Said Manager Gene Lamont: "What makes it tough is that producing runs was our problem already." Added Martin: "Life isn't fair."

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