George Foster is hurt, bad, and in a baseball season rife with disability time for high-magnitude stars, this could be the big spoiler.

Foster has a pulled adductor muscle above the right thigh; a muscle crucial to side-to-side movements o the leg. It is also crucial to Foster's bid for a fourth consecutive National League runs-batted-in title -- yes, that would be unprecedented -- and to the Cincinnati Reds' pennant hopes, just when they might be poised to make their run at Houston in the NL West.

"George is being placed on the 15-day disabled list (effective last Sunday)," club President Dick Wagner announced yesterday. "We will play it by ear at the completion of the 15 days."

Right now, Cincy ears abound with whispers that the awesome wight-handed 1977 and '78 home run champion, current NL batting leader (.333), could be out a lot longer than 15 days.

How much does he mean to the team? Sixteen game-winning hits among 72 RBI in the 75 games he's played this year. And with a sprained ankle and groin pull having cost him time earlier, the Reds (going into last night) were 11-15 in games without Foster.

Now, says Johnny Bench, "We got to hold the fort until the cavalry arrives." When? . . .