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Salmon highest-paid second-year player

Outfielder Tim Salmon signed a $7.5-million, four-year contract Thursday with the California Angels, which makes him the highest-paid second-year player in baseball history. The Angels also signed outfielder Chad Curtis and shortstop Gary DiSarcina to three-year deals, Curtis for $4.5-million and DiSarcina for $2.5-million. Salmon's contract tops the three-year, $4.2-million contract recently given the Dodgers' Mike Piazza, the previous high for a second-year player. Both players were named Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues last season. Piazza's contract works out to $1.4-million per season and Salmon's will average almost $1.9-million a year. Salmon hit .283 with 31 homers and 95 RBI before his 1993 season ended early because of a broken finger. Salmon will earn $600,000 for this season, then his pay will increase over the life of the agreement, reaching $3.5-million in 1997. "I feel awkward about it," Salmon said. "A year and a half ago, I was in the minor leagues, never dreaming I'd be in this position so soon, or ever." Because none of the three Angels signed Thursday is eligible for arbitration, the organization could have unilaterally renewed each of their contracts at much lower figures. By agreeing to multi-year deals, they surrender their arbitration rights during the life of their contracts.

BOSTON: The Big Three _ Mo Vaughn, Aaron Sele and Scott Cooper _ signed one-year deals that seemed to please everyone. Cooper, 26, who made $240,000 last season, signed a $475,000 deal that includes $75,000 in incentive clauses. The third baseman hit .279, with nine home runs and 63 RBI last season and made the All-Star team. Sele, 23, signed for a reported $200,000 after going 7-2 in 18 starts with a 2.74 ERA. Vaughn will be paid $675,000 in base salary with incentives that could bring the first baseman another $60,000. Vaughn, 26, made a base salary of $270,000 last year (.297, 29, 101) and $20,000 in incentives.

CHICAGO: Joe Hall, competing with Michael Jordan for a job, hit a homer and a two-run single, in addition to the run-scoring fly ball that Jordan dropped.

DETROIT: Mike Moore will be the starter today against Cleveland and also will be the starter April 4 when the Tigers open the regular season at Boston. Moore went 8-4 in the final two months for Detroit after posting a 5-5 mark through July 25.

MILWAUKEE: Catcher Dave Nilsson had a double and triple and drove in three runs in an intrasquad game.

NEW YORK: The suspicion that the number of baseball bat assaults rises after the Yankees hand out 25,000 Louisville Sluggers on Bat Day each year is untrue, says a study of emergency room records of hospitals in northern New York City printed in the March issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

OAKLAND: Starting third baseman Craig Paquette faces a challenge from Scott Brosius. In centerfield, rookie Kerwin Moore and veteran Eric Fox are pushing free-agent addition Stan Javier for the right to succeed Dave Henderson. First baseman Mark McGwire will miss this weekend's exhibition games because of a back strain but should be ready to play Monday.

SEATTLE: Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. recovered nicely from severe nausea earlier in the week. In an exhibition game against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, he singled and doubled.

TEXAS: Pitcher Kevin Brown is scheduled to start against Chicago in today's exhibition game in Sarasota. And although Michael Jordan likely will not start for the White Sox, Brown could be the first pitcher from another team to face Jordan.