Don Mattingly, on the 21-day DL because of a bad back, rejoined the Yankees after a week-long absence, vowing to play again before the end of the season.

"I'm trying to stay optimistic," he said. "I'm looking to come back as soon as the 21 days end."


Manager Lou Piniella says he expects his division-leading Reds to win the National League West despite their recent eight-game losing streak.

"I fully expect this team to go home, regroup, play well, maintain our margin and win the pennant," he said. "Saying it and doing it are two different matters. But there's no reason in the world we can't win from wire-to-wire if we do the things we've done in the past.

"Truthfully, this is the year for this club to win. If not, we might have to break this thing up. We didn't disturb the nucleus of the club over the winter. But we might have to if we don't win this year."


NL umpires began wearing black armbands on their left sleeves yesterday in honor of Augie Donatelli. Donatelli, an NL umpire in 1950-72, died May 24. He was the NL's umpiring supervisor from 1987 until his death.


The Yankees put outfielder Deion Sanders on the disqualified list and activated outfielder Mel Hall from the 15-day DL. Sanders, who Monday left the Yankees for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, last played baseball July 29 in the second game of a doubleheader in Cleveland. He had a hit in two at-bats, a homer with the bases empty.

In 57 games, he batted .158 with 21 hits in 133 at-bats. He had three homers and nine RBI.

Monday the team rejected his request for a $1 million contract in 1991 and reportedly rejected his request for a release. . . .

The A's activated second baseman Willie Randolph and optioned pitcher Joe Bitker to Tacoma. . . . The Phillies extended the contracts of GM Lee Thomas and Manager Nick Leyva through 1992. . . . The Padres optioned outfielder Thomas Howard to Las Vegas and recalled outfielder Darrin Jackson.


Brian Harper's 22-game hitting streak is the fourth longest in Twins history, behind Ken Landreaux (31 games, 1980), Lenny Green (24, 1961) and Kent Hrbek (23, 1982).


The Twins' pinch hitters lead the major leagues with 29 hits in 96 at-bats (.302). . . . Brian Downing of the Angels has raised his batting average 23 points on this road trip, climbing from .248 to .271.