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DeVos says he'll take 51 percent of Orlando effort

Amway Corp. president Rich DeVos said Thursday he will assume 51 percent control of the group attempting to bring baseball to Orlando and more investors will be sought. The search won't begin until the middle of next month, when Orange County selects a site for a baseball-only stadium, said James Hewitt _ who was a minority partner in the group headed by William duPont III before DeVos took over.

Devos, visiting Orlando for the first time after taking over the group's principal ownership role, said he told the National League expansion committee last month that one person should not have total control.

"I thought it would be a mistake," said DeVos, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who said he and his family plan to move to Boca Raton.

"This should be a ballclub where if you need a principal (owner), I'm happy to be the principal. But it should also be a broad-based group of investors from the Orlando area."

DeVos said he thinks Orlando is a better candidate than Tampa Bay or Miami.

"I don't see how they can avoid coming to Florida. I think the only choice is which one of the three cities in Florida to go for. It's a lot easier to pick one city with one syndicate than to pick one city and then find out which of those groups you want to choose. It's easier to come here," DeVos said. Tampa Bay and Miami each have more than one group.

DeVos said he was approached to head expansion efforts in Denver and another unnamed city. He declined because he thinks Orlando has the best location for a team.

Welch, Browning file for free-agency

NEW YORK _ Bob Welch of the Oakland Athletics, the first 27-game winner in the majors in 18 years, filed for free-agency Thursday along with eight other players.

Pitchers Tom Browning and Rick Mahler of the Cincinnati Reds also filed as the total of free agents reached 59. (List, page 2C).

The San Diego Padres kept first baseman Jack Clark from becoming a free agent by offering salary arbitration. The Detroit Tigers did the same with pitcher Jack Morris.

Players whom teams said will not be offered arbitration include outfielders Brian Downing of California, Danny Heep of Boston, Fred Lynn of San Diego and Gary Ward of Detroit; catchers Bob Boone of Kansas City, Rick Dempsey of Los Angeles and Rich Gedman of Houston; and pitchers John Candelaria of Toronto and Greg Minton of California. They may file for free-agency starting Friday.

Around the majors

Royals: Second baseman Frank White, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, won't be offered a new contract. White, 40, was only a part-time player in 1990 and hit .216 in 82 games with two home runs and 21 RBI.

Mets: Second baseman Tommy Herr agreed to a one-year contract. The contract of infielder Tom O'Malley was sold to the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League after O'Malley cleared waivers.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.