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Players ready for Lasorda

Bill Russell thinks that his time as interim manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers may be ending today and that Tommy Lasorda soon will be back in the dugout.

"Tomorrow's the big day, I guess," Russell said Sunday. "They're going to make some announcement, but I've been ready for that."

Russell said he's prepared to step aside.

"Every day I think of that," Russell said after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Astros. "I have just prepared every day for something to happen. It's not like it's going to be a shock when he comes back."

Russell gave himself good grades for his managing stint, during which the Dodgers have gone 14-15.

"I was better prepared than I thought I'd be," Russell said. "You never know until you've been given a chance. I didn't have any doubts in myself, but you like to do it under fire. I think I did well. I feel there was always a thought behind every decision."

Ismael Valdes, Sunday's starting pitcher, said the Dodgers are ready for Lasorda's return.

"We're playing pretty well right now, but we need him because we love him," Valdes said. "It'll be great if he comes back. I feel comfortable with Tom."

Reds reach out to minorities

CINCINNATI _ In what may be his final two weeks running the Reds, John Allen is reaching out to minorities, joining hands with those who may have been offended by Marge Schott's comments.

Allen has arranged for a "Celebration of Diversity" at tonight's game with the Houston Astros, in cooperation with the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and the Black and Jewish Coalition.

"The concept is that everybody know the Reds really do care and to try to reach a cross section of as many of the different communities as we can," Allen said.

Allen made 10,000 tickets available at $1 each, and sponsors found local companies to put up the money. Tickets have been distributed to about 70 non-profit agencies.

RANGERS: RHP Kevin Gross, on medical rehab assignment, was assigned to Triple-A.

RED SOX: The team will wait for the results of an MRI test Saturday before deciding whether to place ailing DH Jose Canseco on the disabled list with a bad back.

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