The Texas Rangers got the big bat they were seeking Saturday when they acquired designated hitter-outfielder Harold Baines from the Chicago White Sox for shortstop Scott Fletcher and two top prospects.The Rangers also sent outfielder Sammy Sosa and pitcher Wilson Alvarez to the White Sox. Sosa was playing for Texas' Class AAA Oklahoma City farm club, while Alvarez was on the Rangers' Class AA Tulsa roster...."For the past several years, we've been trying to acquire a designated hitter specialist,'' Rangers General Manager Tom Grieve said. "We feel we now have the best designated hitter in baseball.''
Carlton Fisk, who always chooses his words carefully, chose these more carefully than ever."I don't have much good to say about that," said Fisk, still sweating after a pregame workout with hitting instructor Walt Hriniak. The subject was Saturday's Harold Baines trade. The mood was barely-restrained anger-and this was before the White Sox offense showed little in Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the California Angels...."The No. 3 man right out of our lineup," Fisk said. "Take the No. 3 hitter out of any lineup throughout the major leagues and see what happens. From Alvin Davis to Don Mattingly . . . "Fisk turned his head away and spit something into a sandbox near his cubicle. Even the spitting was angry."Harold and Freddy (Manrique) for one major-league player," said Fisk. "Two major-leaguers for one. And not just a major leaguer. Harold Baines. Harold Baines. You know what I mean? Harold Baines . . ."No, spirits in the White Sox clubhouse were not soaring.
Sosa and Alvarez were two of the shining stars in the Rangers' minor-league system. Both saw brief service with the Rangers in recent weeks, Alvarez for one start and Sosa for five weeks. Both had been returned to the minor leagues.Depth in their minor-league system allowed the Rangers to deal two of their top prospects for a proven hitter."We're not thrilled about dealing two of our best prospects,'' [Rangers manager] Grieve said. "But to get a player of Harold Baines' caliber, you have to trade quality.''For the White Sox, mired in last place in the American League West, the trade was made with an eye toward the future.