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Steinbrenner to Abbott: More work, less charity

Charity begins at home, stays at home and ends with the start of spring training, according to George Steinbrenner's latest edict.

During a news conference Friday, the Yankees owner said pitcher Jim Abbott should cut back his charity work and other off-field activities to improve his performance on the field. Abbott went 11-14 with a 4.37 ERA in 1993, his first season with the Yankees. He pitched a no-hitter in September.

"His agent (Scott Boras) has to lay off for a while. So do other people to allow him to reach what he knows he can do," said Steinbrenner, making his first appearance of the year at spring training. "He wasn't there last year. He knows that. Everybody knows that.

"He is a modern-day Frank Merriwell. I think (Don) Mattingly is another one. I just singled Jim out because I think Jim Abbott is capable of more than he showed last year.

"I must demand total dedication to the task. I want to cut down the involvements of some of my players so that they can concentrate on winning.

"I'm not trying to single Jim out or put pressure on him. He's such a wonderful man. Jim's got to give 100 percent of his attention to baseball during the season."

Abbott said he doesn't overextend himself during the season.

"I'd like to use that as an excuse, but I really can't," he said.

Around the majors

Brewers: The team proposed a convertible-roof stadium for Milwaukee, and Gov. Tommy G. Thompson said he will appoint a task force to determine how to pay for it. Brewers president Bud Selig, the chairman of baseball's ruling executive council, said the design, which calls for the stadium to be enclosed only in bad weather, would help guarantee crowds and allow grass.

Mariners: Reliever Brad Holman had laser surgery to fix a detached right retina _ an injury apparently caused when he was hit by a line drive Aug.

8 in Texas. He suffered sustained a severe contusion to his frontal sinus cavity. The right-hander will miss only about a week, the Mariners said.

Expos: Outfielder Larry Walker became a $4-million player, signing a one-year, $4,025,000 deal announced this month. Pitcher Tim Leary, a 10-year veteran who recently signed with Montreal as a free agent, had his appendix removed and will be out six weeks, general manager Kevin Malone said.

Rockies: Colorado picked up the one-year option on manager Don Baylor's contract, extending it though 1995.

Braves: Pitcher Mike Bielecki, who underwent elbow surgery in 1992 and was released by Cleveland and Baltimore last year, returned to the Braves. The seven-year veteran said he called manager Bobby Cox, and Cox agreed to give him a chance.

Athletics: Carney Lansford, a third baseman forced into retirement by injuries two years ago, is back with the A's as a spring coach. If Lansford likes the job, he will be offered a full-time position on the staff, the team said.

Mets: Pitcher Anthony Young, who survived a record 27-game losing streak, demotion to the minor leagues and postseason elbow surgery, signed a $230,000 contract for 1994, a $25,000 raise.