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Baseball briefs

PHONY MCGWIRE SIGNATURES: Mark McGwire has set his sights on taking down another record. This one has nothing to do with baseball.

It's the record number of bats, balls and baseball cards that are popping up across the country with the St. Louis slugger's phony autograph. On Wednesday, he got some help from the state of Missouri.Attorney General Jay Nixon sent letters to attorneys generals across the country, asking them to look out for items carrying fake signatures.

McGwire memorabilia has become a hot commodity in recent weeks as the first baseman gets closer to breaking Roger Maris' single-season record of 61 homers. McGwire has 45, with 53 games remaining.

McGwire's business agent, James L. Milner, said phony autographs have turned up at several places in the past month.

Unlike many other sports stars, McGwire has refused to enter into autograph-signing deals. With the exception of some promotions to benefit his California-based charitable foundation, Mark McGwire Foundation for Children, McGwire doesn't sell autographs. He believes they should be given only freely to children.