WATHAN RETAINED: The Royals yesterday rehired Manager John Wathan for 1991, saying the "bizarre" circumstances that kept Kansas City near the bottom of the AL West were not his fault.

"I feel like I've been accepted back into the family for another year. . . . With what's happened this year, I don't think I deserve a multi-year contract," he said with a smile.

Wathan, 40, who has been with the Royals as a player and manager for 19 years, has a 264-238 record since taking over at the end of 1987 when Billy Gardner was fired.

The Royals, who lost nine straight games through Tuesday, expected to win the West, but free agents Mark Davis (1-7, 5.96 ERA) and Storm Davis (7-10, 4.74) faltered and Mark Gubicza and Bret Saberhagen and several other players have been injured.

"We do not believe those circumstances reflect on John's ability to manage the Kansas City Royals," General Manager John Schuerholz said. "This is the same man who managed 92 wins last year."

REARDON BACK: Red Sox reliever Jeff Reardon, who had surgery for a ruptured disk in his lower back Aug. 4, was activated.

Reardon, who ranks fourth all-time with 284 career saves, pronounced himself fit after throwing all his pitches in the bullpen. In 39 appearances, Reardon is 3-3 with a 3.30 ERA. He has 18 saves in 25 opportunities.

EXPOS REQUEST LOAN: The Quebec government has been asked to provide up to $30 million in loans toward the purchase of the Expos, a city official said.

Owner Charles Bronfman is seeking local investors to buy the team for $100 million.

Club President Claude Brochu and the Burns-Fry brokerage firm have reportedly raised $70 million -- 14 investors with $5 million each -- and turned to government for the remainder.

REEDY TRIAL: An FBI expert testified yesterday that authorities found hair they believe is William Reedy's on the driver's side windshield of the pickup truck in which former major league manager Billy Martin was killed in a Christmas 1989 crash.

Douglas Deedrick, an FBI special agent, told jurors in Town of Fenton (N.Y) Court that hair found on the windshield and on the passenger-side visor appeared to be Reedy's. Reedy, on trial for drunken driving, contends that he only told investigators he was driving the truck to protect Martin, whom he thought was still alive.