DETROIT, OCT. 10 -- New York Yankees Manager Lou Piniella is at his home in Florida relaxing and playing golf, awaiting the news of his firing. Almost everyone in the Yankees organization expects it to come before next season, and when it does, Piniella apparently is going to keep his dignity intact.

He has told friends he'll let owner George Steinbrenner make the first phone call and that he won't make excuses for the job he has done.

Steinbrenner's first choice was Tommy Lasorda, but Los Angeles sources say Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley denied Steinbrenner's request to interview Lasorda this week . . .

No one near the Dodgers is saying exactly why O'Malley is bringing Fred Claire and Lasorda back, but two weeks after Lasorda told several friends he didn't want to manage any more, he was in front of a news conference talking about how much he loved it . . .

Chicago sources say former Cubs manager Jim Frey could be headed to the Baltimore Orioles in some kind of front office job. Baseball sources believe the new Orioles organizational structure will have Washington attorney Lawrence Lucchino doing contracts and Doug Melvin and someone else sharing the other baseball duties. But it appears Melvin, 34, will be the No. 1 man, and the one answering owner Edward Bennett Williams' frequent phone calls . . .

The Houston Astros got some terrible news this week when they were told that Jim Deshaies, one of the best young left-handers in the National League, has a rotator-cuff tear. His availablity for next season or even 1989 is very much in doubt . . .

George Bell and Alan Trammell probably will finish first and second in the American League most valuable player award balloting, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the season Milwaukee's Paul Molitor put together.

He again missed 45 games because of injuries, but when he played, he was the best leadoff hitter in the AL. The Brewers' play reflected that as they went 75-42 (.641) with him in the starting lineup. Despite missing those games, Molitor led the league with 41 doubles and scored an incredible 114 runs in only 117 games . . .

The latest Jack McKeon rumor: In this one, the San Diego Padres general manager will manage the Chicago Cubs in 1988 and 1989, then take over as general manager for Dallas Green in 1990. Previous McKeon rumors: To Philadelphia as general manager; to Baltimore as general manager. So far, he says he hasn't been contacted by anyone. He has two years left on his contract with the Padres, but has been told by new club president Chub Feeney not to make any moves before first getting Feeney's approval . . .

For the 10th straight year, the AL East won the head-to-head series with the West. In 19 years of divisional play, the West has had a winning record only three times . . .

The Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Jesse Barfield before he had a chance to declare for free agency could be important in a couple of ways. General Manager Pat Gillick's first priority this winter is to acquire a right-handed starting pitcher and he appears finally willing to trade some of his young outfield talent to get someone. Even trading Barfield is not out of the question as Gillick tries to shore up a starting rotation that looks thin behind Jimmy Key, Jim Clancy and Mike Flanagan . . .

The Seattle Mariners were furious at Dick Williams for letting his contract complaints leak to the press before he told the Mariners. Williams' contract is up after next season, and Williams has complained about being a lame duck manager in 1989. Meanwhile, the Mariners were so upset about his handling of younger players and his relaxed attitude in September, that they didn't want him back in 1988, much less 1989. Now owner George Argyros has agreed to let Williams manage another season . . .

The Oakland Athletics promoted Manager Tommie Reynolds from their Class A Modesto team to Class AA Huntsville. His distinction is that of the only black manager for a full-season professional baseball team . . . How did Minnesota Manager Tom Kelly deal with the pressure of his rookie season? When spring training began, he weighed a slender 185. He's now up to 203 and said, "When I'm nervous, I eat. A lot of people lose their appetites. I wish I could lose a little bit of mine." . . .

Kansas City's Danny Tartabull is the first Royal other than George Brett to hit .300, hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs . . . It appears the Cleveland front office is having an argument over the re-hiring of Manager Doc Edwards. Joe Klein, the head of the baseball operation, favors it, but the new owners haven't announced if Klein and team president Dan O'Brien will be back next season . . . Just when it looked as if Jim Fregosi was going to be fired, he ended up with a two-year contract. But it appears that White Sox pitching coach Dick Bosman, a former Washington Senators star, is on shaky ground.