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CUBS RELEASE RELIEF PITCHER GOOSE GOSSAGE

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Rich "Goose" Gossage, one of the best relievers in baseball history, can recognize the song of a boo bird. Now that he's out of a job, he says he might teach his kids the unpleasant sound.

Gossage, who at 37 lacks the fastball that once made him a hitter's late-inning fear in both leagues, was released Tuesday by the Chicago Cubs after a poor spring followed an awful 1988."I'll go fishing," he said. "The most important thing in my life is my family. A game is a game. My boys are starting baseball now. I'll go over and boo them."

But in the same breath, Gossage said he still wants a chance to march to the mound.

"They said I was through in '84, and I wasn't," said Gossage, whose 302 saves are second only to Rollie Fingers' 341.

"Basically, that's how I feel now," he added. "I still feel as if I have a couple more years ahead of me."

The Cubs decided that Mitch Williams and Calvin Schiraldi will cover them in short relief. Al Nipper, acquired from Boston in a 1987 trade that sent Lee Smith to the Red Sox, also was released as the Cubs reduced the number of pitchers in camp to 11.

Gossage still has a guaranteed contract worth $1.2 million.

He was 4-4 with 13 saves in 1988 and had not pitched in exhibition games in more than a week.