Major league powers-that-be affirm that Rudy May should have been kept on New York's 26-man protected roster, leaving the Chicago White Sox to pluck some other player from the pool for loss of free agent Steve Kemp to the Yankees. Sox will say today whether they'll replace May, 38, with Ferguson Jenkins, 39, their next-most-wanted man, or tap elsewhere and spare much chagrin for the Cubs, who signed Jenkins for two years in December, then didn't protect him. White Sox officials, "astonished" to find Jenkins available when May exercised a no-trade contract clause, supposedly opted not to provoke the Cubs. Later, they weren't so sure . . .

The Cubs, meanwhile, trotted out third baseman Ron Cey for formal signing of a five-year ($3 million?) contract. Cey, a month shy of 35, promised to be a more vocal leader than in all those years with the L.A. Dodgers: "On this club there are a lot of young guys and there will be some things that need to be said" . . . Candidates with Dodger ace Fernando Valenzuela to break the arbitrated salary record (if no compromise), maybe even if they "lose": Oakland's Rickey Henderson, who made an arbitrated $535,000 last year while stealing those 138 bases; Milwaukee's Paul Molitor, filing just in case multiyear contract negotiations fall apart. The record won at binding arbitration is $700,000 by Bruce Sutter, in 1980 with the Cubs.