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INSIDE PITCH (Through September 18)

The Royals have bid an unaffectionate farewell to one of their finest players, five-time All-Star Amos Otis. K.C. decided not to pick up its option on Otis—meaning he will be a free agent on Oct. 3—and sent the 36-year-old out-fielder home for the rest of the season. Hounded by injuries much of the year, Otis hit .261 and didn't fit into the Royals' plans to go with younger players. He has been a Royal for 14 years, longer than any other player.

"Mr. [General Manager John] Schuerholz said he saw no reason why I should hang around," said Otis as he left the K.C. clubhouse for the final time last Thursday. "He also said he can't give a player a special day if he's not going to retire. It sounds like he was forcing me into retirement, but I'm not going to."

If there was a message in Schuerholz' action for the rest of the team, it wasn't lost on George Brett. The third baseman noted Otis' long contributions and said, "Nobody is safe."

The Cincinnati Enquirer is running a diary in which Johnny Bench chronicles his final days as a Red. Last week Bench used his column to rebuke Reds rookie Pitcher Jeff Russell for saying the umpiring was "brutal" during his 4-2 triumph over the Padres. Wrote Bench, "One thing you can't do is put down the opposing team or the umpires. You have to realize the umpires know how to read newspapers, too. They do carry a grudge and they do pass it on to other umpires."

Two veteran Texas infielders, Shortstop Bucky Dent and Third Baseman Buddy Bell, were angered by Manager Doug Rader's insistence that they and others on the team hadn't been playing with full intensity of late. "Never in my 10 years have I ever had anyone question how much I want to play, or say I have a bad attitude," Dent said. "I play as hard as anyone." Bell said much the same and added, "This team doesn't have an attitude problem. It has a talent problem." After a strong first half, the Rangers had been 27-45 since the All-Star break.

Atlanta's Dale Murphy, who slumped when teammate Bob Horner was injured last season, has come on strong since Horner broke his wrist on Aug. 15. Murphy batted .364 in 29 games and has had five doubles, nine home runs, 30 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

Five stolen bases last week by Oakland's Rickey Henderson raised his season's total to 103. That made Henderson the only major-leaguer to swipe 100 bases in successive years and the only one to steal that many three times. What's more, Henderson's percentage is better this season (103 in 121 tries for 85.1%) than last, when he set the mark for steals in one season (130 in 172 attempts for 75.6%).

LaMarr Hoyt of the White Sox became the American League's first 20-game winner in three years.... Minnesota's Ken Schrom again outdueled former Toronto teammate Dave Stieb, beating him for the third time this season, 6-2.... Since being claimed from the Mariners for the $20,000 waiver price last month, Glenn Abbott of the Tigers had a 2-1 record and a 2.09 ERA.... Cleveland Manager Pat Corrales, who started the season as Philadelphia's skipper, says Detroit's Jack Morris "might be the best righthanded pitcher in both leagues. Nobody's got the stuff he does. "...Charlie Hough of Texas stretched his scoreless-inning streak to a club-record 36 before settling for a 4-2 win over Oakland.... California Manager John McNamara fears that Pitcher Bruce Kison's career may be over. Kison will undergo surgery on Sept. 26 to remove a herniated disk.

Since Aug. 25, when the Brewers were in first place in the American League East, they'd batted only .237 and had tumbled to fifth place while losing 17 of 23 games. No Milwaukee pitcher had been hurt more by the batting slump than Don Sutton, who failed to get a win in four close losses during that stretch. Sutton, 7-13 overall, hadn't won since July 14, and his eight defeats in a row tied a club record. After a 4-1 loss to New York, Sutton couldn't hide his tears. "I'm only a human being," Sutton said. "I don't know if I can go through more or subject my family to more of this."

The Reds signed Pitcher Mario Soto to a five-year contract for an estimated $6 million, the most lucrative pact in Cincinnati's history. The Reds have realized that they can't be a contender if they let quality players go to teams willing to shell out that kind of money.... Philadelphia's Pete Rose was in a slump that had dropped his average to .242 and left his hit total at 3,984. His replacement at first base, Len Matuszek, had two homers and seven RBIs in 11 games since coming up from Portland.... Rusty Staub's third pinch-hit home run of the season was the 12th by the Mets, which tied the 1957 Reds' major league record.... "He's improved as much from one season to the next as any player I've ever had," said Pittsburgh Manager Chuck Tanner of Jim Morrison, who has been filling in at third base for the injured Bill Madlock. Last year Morrison batted .242 for the White Sox and Pirates. This year he was hitting .309 and had 25 RBIs in 152 at bats, which over a full season would project to 100 ribbies.... "Everybody's been saying that you should win them one at a time," said rookie Outfielder Andy Van Slyke as St. Louis fell 5½ games behind Philadelphia in the National League East. "I think we've got to win them 11 at a time."

With a San Diego runner on third and two down in the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 game, San Francisco Manager Frank Robinson ordered Reliever Greg Minton to walk Tony Gwynn and Terry Kennedy intentionally and pitch to rookie Kevin McReynolds. McReynolds lined Minton's next pitch toward the top of the low, padded leftfield fence. Going, going, gone—really gone; the ball disappeared from most people's view. It looked as though the ball had cleared the fence for a grand-slam homer, but it was actually wedged in a corner of the padding. McReynolds was credited with a game-winning single.

Ken Griffey, who's in his second season with the Yankees after averaging .307 in his nine years with the Reds, has high praise for American League pitchers. "The pitchers here make you a better hitter because they make you think more," says Griffey, who was hitting .316 after a subpar .277 in '82. "Last year against Detroit, Dan Petry was ahead 9-1 in the ninth, had two outs and had a 3-2 count on me. In the National League, in a situation like that, it was automatic—you got a fastball. But Petry threw me a 3-2 change. I was shocked." He was also out.

"This year I've learned to adjust to the off-speed pitch," Griffey points out. "I didn't have to do that when I was in the National League. Because of the hitters behind me when I was playing with Cincinnati, I got 95 percent fastballs. I've learned to be a lot more patient hitter. In the National League, I was just swinging and I wasn't setting myself and waiting for my pitch."

Jeff Reardon, he holds his hands high, meaning he wants the tall guy. Frankly, I don't care. As long as he wants me, he can put on a mask and call for the ugly guy.