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Thomas repeats as MVP

Frank Thomas on Wednesday became the first player to win the AL Most Valuable Player award in consecutive seasons since Roger Maris.

Thomas, an unanimous winner last year with the Chicago White Sox, received 24 of 28 first-place votes, coming up four votes short of being the first to win consecutive awards as an unanimous selection. The first baseman was the 11th overall MVP winner to repeat, and the first in the American League since Maris in 1960-61.

Thomas was third in the league in batting at .353, second in home runs with 38 and tied for third in RBI with 101. He led the majors with a .487 on-base percentage and topped the AL with a .729 slugging average. He scored 106 runs and drew 109 walks, league bests, while striking out just 61 times.

"If I look at my stats, I would not say I'm not deserving. Consistency is something I pride myself in," he said.

Although the season ended 49 games early, Thomas, who went to the plate 508 times, more than the 502 plate appearances required to qualify a batter's full-season performance for the record book.

Ken Griffey Jr., who led the league with 40 home runs and hit .323 for Seattle, got three first-place votes and had 233 points. Albert Belle, who had 36 homers, 101 RBIs and was second in batting at .357 for Cleveland, was third with 225 points.

Strikebreakers beware

NEW YORK _ Striking members of the Mets and Yankees had a warning for potential strikebreakers: Do so at your own peril.

"I'm sitting out, I'm losing a ton of money, so if you cross the line, it might be a tough go for you," said John Franco, the Mets' player representative.

Some owners have said they may open camps for spring training and invite minor leaguers and roster players who might break ranks.

"I might even have orders from somebody to throw at him, and I'm sure if the situation ends up getting that bad, it will happen," Yankees pitcher Scott Kamieniecki told The New York Times. "We just have to do what we think is right, and if it comes to that, I wouldn't hesitate."

Elsewhere

Labor: William Usery, appointed by President Clinton to mediate the labor dispute, met with Players' Association representatives in a fact-finding session. Usery is expected to meet with union representatives again today before scheduling sessions with owners before scheduling face-to-face negotiations for the end of next week.

Rangers: Texas named Rudy Jaramillo batting coach and Jerry Narron third base coach.

Indians: Right-hander John Farrell agreed to a minor-league contract with Cleveland and was invited to spring training. Farrell, 32, was in the Cleveland organization from 1984 through 1991.

Japan Series: The Seibu Lions tied the series at two by beating Yomiuri Giants 6-5 in Tokyo, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning. Former major leaguer Dan Gladden of the Giants went 0-for-4.

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