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PITCH HITTERS

Not that Cincinnati relief pitcher Danny Graves had shown bad form at the plate, but when he hit a home run last weekend at Houston, he received the following phone message from injured teammate Pete Harnisch:

"I'm taking my wife skiing in hell because hell just froze over."

Graves, a product of Brandon High, didn't object much:

"Me hit a home run? Get serious. I've never even hit one in batting practice. They wouldn't let me near a bat in college (Miami). The last time I hit a home run was in Little League. I was a threat there. Hit three in a game. That's because I was 12 years old and 5 feet 7. Now 14 years later, I'm 5 feet 9. That's why I wear 3-inch heels in my street shoes."

With interleague play starting in less than two weeks, here is a look at the top-hitting pitchers, with a minimum of 16 plate appearances:

Player, team .Avg HR RBI

Rick Ankiel, Cards .368 2 5

Terry Mulholland, Braves .313 0 2

Pat Hentgen, Cards .308 0 0

Masato Yoshii, Rockies .294 0 5

Todd Ritchie, Pirates .278 0 0

_ Compiled by Marc Topkin.

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