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Don Baylor has been offered a front-office position with the California Angels, but he would prefer to spend one more season as a designated hitter before becoming a full-time sitter.

He would also like to extend one of baseball's intriguing streaks.

As an acknowledged clubhouse leader and clutch hitter, Baylor has reached each of the last three World Series with different teams - the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins and Oakland A's.

"I'm working out every day in the hope that someone will decide they want to win again," Baylor said.

So far, however, the only offer has come from Jackie Autry, wife of Angels' owner Gene Autry.

"Jackie called and asked if I'd like to come to work with (General Manager) Mike Port," Baylor said. "She said that she and Gene had felt that Reggie (Jackson) had probably played a couple years longer than he should have and I took that to mean they probably felt the same about me. I told her we're all different.

"We didn't get into specifics about the job, but I told her I'd get back to her about the time spring training started."

The Angels are expanding their front office by hiring two assistants for Port.

Baylor, who played for the Angels from 1977 through 1982 and was the American League's most valuable player in '82, would fill two roles himself - that of assistant to Port and an attractive response to baseball's affirmative action process. He might also be a valuable liaison between Port and the players.

In fact, the irony in the club's offer is that Baylor had indeed hoped to return to the Angels, but as a player. The Angels were his first choice, he said, when the Athletics elected not to re-sign him. "But Mike told me that they already had Brian Downing and too many other DH types," Baylor said. "But that's not looking at anything else. They lost a leader in Bob Boone, and who do they have to replace him?"

Despite Oakland's relentless march to the American League's Western Division title, the 1988 season was not a satisfying one for Baylor, 39. He appeared in only 92 games, batting .220 with seven homers and 34 runs batted in.

A .290 hitter in postseason competition, Baylor had only one at-bat in the World Series. Now he waits for one more spring training invitation and wonders if his union activity and penchant for expressing his opinions is finally working against him.

"I've played in three straight World Series and I'd think that would be enough qualifications for me," Baylor said.

***** In an attempt to avoid the injuries that reduced his playing time to 135 games last year and 129 in 1988, center fielder Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds has gone from 175 to 190 pounds this winter by lifting weights at his Woodland Hills, Calif., home and running the neighborhood hills.

Building strength and stamina, however, have not entirely allowed Davis to forget his relationship with the Reds, which isn't the best.

According to agent Eric Goldschmidt, Davis told General Manager Murray Cook on Tuesday that he wanted to be traded if they could not agree on a contract. Davis, who made $899,000 last year, has an arbitration hearing scheduled in New York Thursday. He filed at $1.65 million. The Reds countered at $1.15 million.

Citing the contract differences and Davis' belief that the Reds forced him to play hurt in 1987, Goldschmidt said, "He's not a happy camper. He's tired of the treatment."

Davis and longtime pal Darryl Strawberry of the New York Mets have said they hope to eventually come home and play together in the Los Angeles Dodger outfield. Davis can't force a trade now, but he will be within a year of free agency after this season.

"If he doesn't get satisfaction now, he certainly won't sign a multiyear contract then," Goldschmidt said. "Then what do the Reds do?"

***** Since being traded from the Baltimore Orioles to his hometown Dodgers, Eddie Murray has been seen at a number of Southern California sporting events, but has failed to attend any of the club's three-a-week winter workouts at Dodger Stadium.

Nor is he expected to attend the club's annual open house Sunday.

Are the Dodgers disappointed that they have not seen more of Murray?

"Not really," Executive Vice President Fred Claire said. "The workouts are voluntary, so it's not a problem with me, not a concern.

"I've talked with Eddie on several occasions and have tremendous amount of confidence in that he knows what's best for him and what he has to do.

"The most important thing is that his attitude and enthusiasm are very high. I feel his enthusiasm for being with the Dodgers will offset not being at the workouts.

"Eddie feels that he has enough time to get ready in spring training. He has also been very involved playing golf, building a new home here and in just the transition of the move."

There are some in the Baltimore organization who have suggested that Murray, at 33, needs to work harder during the winter.

They cite April of 1987, when Murray experienced his worst month, batting .181. And they point to his slow start of last season, when he hit 28 homers and drove in 84 runs overall but was batting only .231 with four homers and 19 RBI on June 5.

Of course, there were other considerations last year. The weight of the Orioles' miserable start fell heaviest on Murray. He became the object of the fans' frustration and scorn, some of it racial.

"His relationship with the city and club deteriorated so badly that a lot of the gas went out of the engine," a longtime Murray associate said.

"There was no correlation between the slow start and his winter work habits. In good seasons and bad, Eddie has never been a traditional winter conditioner. He has soft hands and feels that a lot of hitting isn't good for them."

***** In rebuilding from their 207 losses of the last two years, the Orioles will take 53 players to training camp and revert to being Baby Birds.

Of the 38 on the roster, 26 have less than two years of professional experience, 16 weren't in the organization a year ago and 24 weren't with the organization two years ago. Only three have spent two seasons or more with the varsity - Cal Ripken Jr., Larry Sheets and Dave Schmidt.

***** Mark Langston's refusal to sign a multiyear contract with the Seattle Mariners in favor of a one-year contract for $1.3 million means one of two things seems certain to happen.

The Mariners will have to accept trade packages from either the New York Mets or San Diego Padres or get nothing in return when Langston leaves as a free agent after the 1989 season.

The Mariners recently lost their best right-handed pitcher, Mike Moore, as a free agent, and left-hander Langston has left little doubt that he will be next.

In his five seasons with a club that is 87 games under .500 for that span, Langston is five games over.

***** The Mariners were handed yet another defeat the other day, but probably didn't deserve it. Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg ruled in favor of designated hitter Steve Balboni, lifting his salary from $350,000 to $800,000 on the basis of 23 home runs, 66 RBI and a .235 average. The Mariners had filed at $500,000.

Tal Smith, who represented the club, called it "the worst, the most outrageous, the most unsupportable decision in all my experience."