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AROUND THE AL

ANGELS: Jason Dickson, who began camp fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation, was named the No.

2 starter.

The team will tone down its ballpark entertainment this season: no more cheerleaders, no more high-volume sound effects, no more brass bands on the dugouts. "From what our fans tell us, they prefer to watch the baseball game," said Bill Robertson, director of communications.

INDIANS: Cleveland asked the league for a roster exemption while star closer Jose Mesa is on trial. Mesa has been granted separate trials on weapons and sex charges. Cleveland opens the season April 2 at Oakland. GM John Hart said the team asked AL president Gene Budig for a roster exemption under a rule that allows teams to replace a player because of a "hardship or unusual circumstance."

If the request is granted, Cleveland would replace Mesa on the 25-man roster with another pitcher, probably Danny Graves. If Mesa became available, the Indians would have to option Graves to the minors.

At a pretrial hearing in Cleveland, a judge ruled Mesa would be tried first on a charge of rape, two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of felonious assault beginning March 31. The pitcher would then be tried on a charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

MARINERS: INF Chris Sabo, 35, was released. He said he won't make any phone calls and doesn't expect any. "It's my age. I've been a starter all my life and I don't think I'm a starter anymore. The problem is most teams don't look at me as a part-time player."

INF Dave Silvestri cost himself a home run by passing a runner at first base, getting credit for a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning of a 13-12 win over the Padres. Brent Mayne, running from first, thought the ball would be caught, so he ran back to tag up, and Silvestri passed him. "It's never happened to me before, and I've never seen it happen," said Silvestri, who was called out. Edgar Martinez went 3-for-3, raising his average to .522. He has 16 hits in his past 21 at-bats, including four homers and three triples.

ORIOLES: If Cal Ripken agrees on a contract extension, the signing could be delayed until after April 1 to work around baseball's new payroll tax system. If a player signs an extension before then, the average annual value of the contract would be applied to this year's payroll for tax purposes. Contracts signed after would not apply until 1998.

TIGERS: Hall of Fame pitcher Hal New-houser's uniform number, 16, will be retired July 27.

_ TIMES WIRES

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