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BASEBALL EXTRA | AROUND THE AL

Angels Appear Ready to Join Dodgers in NL

September 07, 1997|ROSS NEWHAN

It is wise not to be too definitive on the ever-changing realignment scenario, but this much now seems certain:

* The 16-team National League will be divided into four division of four teams each, and the 14-team American League will be divided into two divisions of five teams each and one of four teams.

* The Angels will move to the National League but will not be in the same four-team division with the Dodgers. The Angels will be paired with Oakland, Seattle and Arizona. The Dodgers will be paired with San Francisco, San Diego and Colorado, their current NL West opponents.

The Angels and Dodgers have agreed to the alignment, a baseball official said.

"I look for nine to 11 teams to switch leagues," the official said. "There's a lot of horse trading still going on, but the West Coast part of it is pretty much set [with all the Pacific time zone teams in the NL]. Peter Magowan [the Giant owner] is the only guy opposed to it, but he doesn't have a veto."

While the Angels and Dodgers will not be in the same division, the schedule is expected to be weighted so that teams will play more games against geographic rivals.

The irony: Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo basically initiated radical realignment by insisting his Diamondbacks play in the National League.

He was given veto rights to support his demand, much to the chagrin of several owners who continue to wonder how a team that has never played a game and isn't being asked to switch leagues gets veto power. As a close friend of acting Commissioner Bud Selig and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Colangelo is getting his wish.

He'll be in the NL, but the irony is that he's being grouped with three former American League teams--the Angels, A's and Mariners.

*

The A's have chosen to look at the future rather than the present--wise choice for a team that may lose 100 games for only the second time since the move from Kansas City in 1968. The recall of their two top prospects, right fielder Ben Grieve and shortstop Miguel Tejeda, gives the A's a chance to measure the building process.

"Ben is ready, no question about it," assistant general manager Billy Beane said of the son of Tom Grieve, former general manager of the Texas Rangers and a current TV analyst with that club.

"As for Miguel, he's definitely our shortstop of the future. This may be a little early for him, but it will give us a chance to evaluate where he is and determine what we do this winter about a possible shortstop for the short term."

Tejeda, 21, was signed by Juan Marichal, another in the seemingly endless string of talented shortstops from the Dominican Republic. Grieve, also 21, was the second player selected in the 1994 June draft. Both played in the double-A Southern League this year. Grieve moved to triple A in midseason and compiled cumulative statistics rivaling the Dodgers' touted Paul Konerko.

In his major league debut Monday night, Grieve did the Dodgers a favor. He tied a club record with three doubles in a rout of the Giants.

The A's believe Grieve and Tejeda are only the tip of the talent pool. Plus, the trade of Mark McGwire and expected departure of Jose Canseco provide some payroll flexibility.

"Despite the type year we've had, we can approach the off-season much more optimistically," Beane said. "We'll finally be able to do some addition rather than subtraction."

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