Billy DeMars' resignation as the Cincinnati Reds' hitting coach was the nasty outcome of yet another squabble between owner Marge Schott and her baseball staff and is one more indication that this organization's return to respectablity might be temporary.

DeMars resigned, effective at the end of the season, after Schott told General Manager Bill Bergesch to have coach Tony Perez work with hitters. She said she had talked to a couple of players about it, and both agreed with her.

Bergesch apparently explained that young hitters consider hitting coaches something resembling gurus, and that two hitting coaches just wouldn't work. Schott insisted.

So Bergesch went to the clubhouse and told Perez and DeMars, who said he'd stay on the staff until the end of the season, then leave. He turned the chores of hitting instructor over to Perez immediately. Oddly, one person who wasn't consulted by anyone was Manager Pete Rose.

"I would have thought they'd have consulted the guy responsible for bringing him here," Rose said. "He's had a lot of results."

Larry Doughty, the club's respected scouting director, will leave at the end of the season as what has been the game's best scouting staff begins to come apart . . .

The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets, the leaders in the NL East, will play six more times this season, including three in St. Louis the last weekend of the season. The Mets appear to be getting hot at the right time, going 19 games over .500 for the first time this year. They will play their last 26 games against NL East teams, against whom they've gone 39-25, best in the division. They hit 25 home runs in the 18 games through Friday and had won eight of their last nine one-run games . . .

The Cardinals have stolen 200 bases for the sixth straight season. Only two teams ever did better. The Cubs did it in 1901-08 and the Tigers in 1909-15 . . . Texas catcher Geno Petralli tied a major league record with six passed balls in one game last week, but he can count it as his own. In 1902, Harry Vickers had six, but that was his only game as a catcher. . .

The Milwaukee Brewers announced last week that Tom Trebelhorn was returning as manager. That was no surprise, but General Manager Harry Dalton admitted he'd actually extended the contract in spring training. "I was just very impressed by how organized he was," Dalton said. "I also didn't want him thinking his retention depended on the performance of the club this year." Dalton has told friends that Trebelhorn may be his second-best managerial hire ever. Earl Weaver is still No. 1 . . .

Johnny Ray's trade to the California Angels leaves the Pittsburgh Pirates with only four players making $200,000 or more: Andy Van Slyke ($550,000), Terry Harper ($425,000), Bob Walk ($285,000) and Sid Bream ($200,000) . . . Fred Claire is beginning to plan for 1988 as if he's sure to be running the Los Angeles Dodgers, which won't be good news for Tommy Lasorda. A couple of Lasorda's closest friends believe he'll leave the Dodgers if he doesn't get the job of general manager. There may be job offers awaiting him with the Cubs, Yankees and Phillies (as a general manager).

The Dodgers will fail to draw three million fans for the first time since 1981, and last Tuesday's game with the Philadelphia Phillies drew 19,000, the smallest home crowd since 1981 . . . There probably hasn't been a better left-hander in the NL since the all-star break than Atlanta's Zane Smith, who has gone 7-2 with a 2.50 ERA. The rest of the Atlanta rotation is 6-19 with a 5.25 ERA over that stretch . . . It looks as if Jim Fregosi will be offered a contract to manage the White Sox in 1988, but General Manager Larry Himes may want some new coaches, which could lead to Fregosi's resignation.

Santiago Stars

San Diego's Tony Gwynn hit .402 in August, and first baseman John Kruk set a club record with 30 RBI. But neither was the Padres' player of the month. That award went to the obvious 1987 NL rookie of the year, catcher Benito Santiago, who hit .330 with 25 RBI, six homers and seven stolen bases. "I think he'll be the National League all-star catcher for the next seven to eight years," Mets Manager Davey Johnson said . . .

Congratulations to the eight major leaguers who've gone from last-place teams to first-place teams this season: Rick Reuschel, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Don Robinson, Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts, Kevin Mitchell and Jim Morrison . . . Scouts aren't sure what to make of Cleveland right fielder Cory Snyder. A year after he appeared to be headed toward stardom, he's hitting .235 with 142 strikeouts . . .

Andre Dawson of the Cubs could become the eighth National Leaguer to hit 50 homers in a season, and the first since George Foster hit 52 in 1977. But it appears he'll finish second in the MVP voting for the third time. He finished behind Mike Schmidt in 1981 and Dale Murphy in 1983. This year, Jack Clark of the Cardinals has it wrapped up.