Not that any of this makes much difference now, but it was Ken Harrelson, the Chicago White Sox general manager, and not Tony LaRussa, the manager, who decided to move Carlton Fisk from catcher to left field.

Yes, and it was Harrelson, not LaRussa, who traded young pitcher Edwin Correa to the Texas Rangers, and Harrelson, not LaRussa, who believed that infielder Wayne Tolleson could be a regular player in the big leagues.

It was Harrelson who got virtually nothing in a trade with the Yankees and Harrelson who put together baseball's oddest coaching staff.

Yet until about noon Friday, it appeared to be LaRussa who was going to pay for it, and only people in the White Sox' decision-making process understand why he wasn't fired.

One reason apparently is that one of the White Sox owners, probably Jerry Reinsdorf, understood that Harrelson, the rookie general manager, put together a bad team, then tried to blame LaRussa because it wasn't playing well.

Another is that LaRussa got a couple of big standing ovations at Comiskey Park this week and that someone in the team's front office realized he'd be out of work about six minutes if he were fired . . .

Switching Fisk to left field made Joel Skinner the White Sox' regular catcher, and Skinner was in a two-for-25 slump and was zero for 11 throwing out baserunners through Friday's game. LaRussa moved Fisk back behind the plate yesterday. . .

Chuck Cottier lasted only 217 games as Seattle's manager, but a big factor in his firing had nothing to do with his 98-119 record. If the Mariners don't draw a total of 2.8 million this season and next, their Kingdome lease allows them to move, and Seattle businessmen pressed owner George Argyros to hire a big-name manager.

Seattle sources said Dick Williams became a compromise candidate after the team's front office was split between hiring Billy Martin and former Twins manager Billy Gardner.

Carlton's Time Running Out

The Philadelphia Phillies are privately saying Steve Carlton has another two starts to prove he still belongs in the big leagues. Carlton, 41, is 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA and has allowed 45 hits and 25 walks in 36 1/3 innings.

More troubling is that his once mighty fastball was clocked no faster than 82 mph in his last start . . .

Fueling speculation that Detroit's Jack Morris has also lost his fastball is that right-handed hitters are batting .330 and have hit a whopping 11 homers off him this season. Once upon a time, Morris and his fastball dominated right-handed hitters. Both the Tigers and Morris are searching for answers . . .

The Oakland A's have scored 45 runs in Moose Haas' 42 2/3 innings on the mound. They've scored one in Rick Langford's 24 innings . . .

The California Angels have six picks in the first two rounds of the June draft and have decided to make Auburn's Bo Jackson an early selection . . .

Craziness in Cincinnati. Twenty minutes before last Sunday's game with the Mets, when her team had already lost seven in a row, Reds owner Marge Schott phoned Manager Pete Rose and said she wanted to bring a priest to the clubhouse for a few prayers.

Rose talked her out of that, but he admits to needing help. Third baseman Buddy Bell was on the bench with one RBI in 63 at-bats. He's going to try wearing glasses, but more than a few scouts privately say that, at 34, he might be finished. He has never been a fitness fanatic and might be paying a price now.

And then there's first baseman Nick Esasky, who is on the bench with a one for 33 slump. He didn't take the bat off his shoulder in his final three at-bats against the Braves last week . . .

Houston Astros Manager Hal Lanier started Nolan Ryan, Bob Knepper or Mike Scott in 24 of the Astros' first 27 games. Ryan, who's 39, already has eight starts.

"He'll wear that guy out," Dodgers infielder Enos Cabell said of Lanier's use of Ryan. "I give him another month, and he'll be on the disabled list."

Mets Leaning to Right

The New York Mets are 12-0 in games started against right-handed pitchers and 8-4 in games started against left-handed pitchers through yesterday. One reason for that difference might be outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who was hitting .136 with no homers and three RBI against lefties and .450 with six homers and 15 RBI against righties through Thursday's games . . .

With the Los Angeles Dodgers no longer shopping Jerry Reuss around, the New York Yankees are concentrating on trying to trade for Cleveland's Neal Heaton or Texas' Charlie Hough . . .

The Richmond Braves' infield of Gerald Perry, Paul Zuvella, Paul Runge and Brad Komminsk will earn $375,000 this season, which is about $15,000 less than the San Francisco Giants' infield will make . . .

In releasing Steve Kemp, the Pittsburgh Pirates will eat the final $2.4 million of his contract. For whatever reason, Kemp was never the same after signing a five-year contract with the Yankees in 1983. In the six seasons before signing that contract, he'd averaged 18 homers and 87 RBI. In the three-plus seasons since, he had a total of 21 homers and 112 RBI . . .

The Los Angeles Dodgers are wondering if Alejandro Pena will be able to pitch again. He's in Vero Beach, Fla., on a rehabilitation assignment after rotator-cuff surgery last year, and in a start against Winter Haven last week, he allowed three runs in three innings and had his fastball clocked at between 82 and 84 mph . . .

More pitching problems. Toronto left-hander Jimmy Key has had 105 runners on base against him, and 29 have scored . . .

Weirdest stat of the week: American League hitters are batting only .178 off Texas rookie Bobby Witt, but Witt has a 5.48 ERA . . .

Milestone of the week: Davey Lopes of the Chicago Cubs was used as a pinch-runner on his 40th birthday.