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Here we go again, as baseball readies for its ninth work...

August 21, 2002

Here we go again, as baseball readies for its ninth work stoppage

in 30 years.

Fans shouldn't be surprised at the fact that the sport's players

have set a strike date of Aug. 30. In fact, they should be used to

it.

Just like Leap Year and the New York Yankees winning the World

Series, a strike should be seen as something that comes along every

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few years.

And although fans might be upset and angry if the Major League

Baseball Players' Assn. and the owners can't work out their

differences, the sport's loyalists won't be the most adversely

affected by the strike.

[By the way, the two are at odds over a payroll tax -- a

salary-restraint tool that the owners deem essential to establish a

competitive balance].

The individuals who will suffer the most from a work stoppage are

the minor-league players trying to make it to the "Big Show," and the

fringe pro players who don't make the big bucks or who are in the

twilight of their careers.

Two of those players are former Burbank High and Glendale

Community College star Freddy Sanchez and veteran Mike Magnante, a

Burroughs High grad.

An Aug. 30 strike would be brutal for both athletes, who are

hoping to be brought up when rosters are scheduled to be expanded

Sept. 1.

Sanchez -- who plays for triple-A Pawtucket in the Boston Red Sox

organization -- is just a step away from breaking into the majors.

After being invited to the Red Sox's spring-training camp and

being sent to the minors, Sanchez went back to double A Trenton and

flexed his offensive muscle.

His fine play earned him a call-up to triple A Pawtucket last

month.

Since his arrivel, Sanchez is knocking the cover off the ball in

triple A, and there is a great chance that he will be brought up to

the Red Sox -- that is, if there isn't a strike.

In 31 games, Sanchez, 24 -- a shortstop -- is batting .285 (37 for

130) with 23 runs batted in, eight doubles and three home runs.

Tuesday, he hit a two-run home run in the 15th inning to power the

Sox past Rochester, 9-8.

A call-up would be a perfect opportunity for Sanchez to show the

Red Sox his talents, and hopefully bolster his stock.

*

For Magnante, a 37-year-old left-handed relief pitcher, he just

wants a chance to finish up the season after being released by the

Oakland Athletics in late July.

Friday, the 10-year veteran received good news when he was signed

to a minor-league contract by the Dodgers. He is at the teams' triple

A affiliate -- the Las Vegas 51s -- getting back into the groove and

waiting for a call-up, possibility when the rosters expand to 40

Sept. 1.

With Oakland, Magnante had an 0-2 record and a 5.97 earned-run

average.

Unfortunately, players like Sanchez and Magnante will reap little

benefit from a baseball strike. In fact, it will likely do more to

hurt their careers than help them.

Lets just hope the players and owners can avoid a strike, but by

the look of it, that probably isn't going to happen.

* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can

be reached at 843-8700, or by e-mail at jeff.tully@latimes.com.

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