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All's not well with Bagwell

Page 3 of 4 -- ''Tony was the right guy for us," said a Royals official. ''He developed the young kids, he had high energy, he bought into our plan, and he was very, very loyal. But you could see in his last three or four days that he was really getting beaten up on a daily basis."

Giant obstacles in San Francisco

The Giants are playing without arguably the best hitter in the history of the game, Barry Bonds. Their closer, Armando Benitez, tore a hamstring covering first base and is expected to miss three or four months. Now the staff ace, Jason Schmidt, is on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder.

''Reminds me," said assistant general manager Ned Colletti, ''of Joaquin Andujar's great quote: 'The one thing you know about baseball is you never know.' "

Colletti cannot offer a timetable on when Bonds will be back, or even whether he will back, not after three knee surgeries. Ask Colletti about the Giants' left fielder, and he says: ''Pedro Feliz is playing great. He's probably one of the most valuable players in the league right now."

Manager Felipe Alou, who just celebrated his 70th birthday, is holding together the bullpen with baling wire, but Colletti said the Giants aren't likely to make a trade.

''In May, the price is outlandish," he said. ''We're going to have to figure this out from within."

Etc.

The short circuit
While Edgar Renteria slowly raises his offensive production toward respectable levels, former Red Sox fan darling Orlando Cabrera is mired in a brutal slump with the Angels. Cabrera began the weekend with just five hits in 33 May at-bats (.152) and was batting just .230 overall. He was hitting only .203 at home, .162 against lefties, .158 with runners in scoring position, and a minuscule .106 (5 for 47) with two strikes (Johnny Damon, by contrast, came into the weekend leading the majors in two-strike hitting with a phenomenal .393 average). With Nomar Garciaparra likely to miss most, if not all, of the season after undergoing groin and abdominal surgery, the early winner in last winter's shortstop merry-go-round would appear to be the Cardinals with David Eckstein. Eckstein, who was not tendered a contract by the Angels, was hitting .415 (22 for 53) this month and had a 13-game hitting streak snapped Friday night. He had an on-base percentage of .400 and was tied for 13th in the National League with a .323 average.

Dusty's trail
There is already speculation in Chicago that Grady Little, a special assistant to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, is in line for the managing job if the team decides to make a move with the embattled Dusty Baker, who has watched his bullpen implode on a daily basis. The coup de grace came 10 days ago when LaTroy Hawkins gave up the tying and winning runs when he tried to double up Jose Offerman on a liner back to the box, and his throw struck Offerman in the helmet and bounced into the stands. Baker, who has a year left on his deal and was hailed as a savior when he left the Giants in 2003, received a vote of confidence from team president Andy MacPhail last week. ''Like everybody else, I am not wowed by the won-loss record," MacPhail told the Chicago Tribune. ''But the blame game is something that seems to be more prevalent today in our sports media than it was 10 or 15 years ago. What we are really focused on is trying to fix the problem, not assigning blame. You know, assigning blame is kind of a waste of energy."   Continued...

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