National League Expansion Committee Chairman Douglas Danforth said yesterday the two NL expansion franchises that will begin play in 1993 may be awarded as early as May or June.

"Our intent is to wrap this up as rapidly as we can," said Danforth, chairman and chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh Pirates. "May or June, that's our goal. We want to give the two franchises as much time as possible to establish their organizations and think about what they want to do as far as a minor league system."

To this point the only people who have been involved in the formal decision-making are Danforth and the other members of the expansion committee: NL President Bill White, John McMullen of the Astros and Fred Wilpon of the Mets. But before the franchises are awarded, every other major league owner will have a say -- and a vote -- in the matter.

The next step in the process will take place in January and February, Danforth said. During that time, the expansion committee will be seeking additional information from each of the six prospective ownership groups that remain under consideration and visiting the cities they represent -- Washington, Buffalo, Denver, Miami, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

After the visits, the committee will begin its final deliberations. Its recommendations, which likely will amount to the actual selections, will be passed on to the Major League Executive Council and the Major League Ownership Committee, then to team owners.

The executive council and ownership committee must approve the expansion committee's recommendations by a majority vote. Three quarters of the 12 NL owners and a majority of the 14 AL owners must approve the cities.

The executive council is composed of Danforth, White, McMullen, Commissioner Fay Vincent, AL President Bobby Brown, Bill Bartholomay of the Braves, Peter O'Malley of the Dodgers, Eli Jacobs of the Orioles, Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox, Bud Selig of the Brewers and Haywood Sullivan of the Red Sox. The ownership committee is composed of White, Brown, McMullen, O'Malley, Reinsdorf, Selig, Fred Kuhlmann of the Cardinals, Stanton Cook of the Cubs, George Bush of the Rangers and Walter Haas Jr. of the A's.

January-February: The NL Expansion Committee will request more information from the finalists and visit the six cities. The committee will inspect the stadiums/proposed sites and meet with the ownership groups.

By June 30: Expansion Committee will make recommendations to the other NL owners, the Major League Executive Council and the Major League Ownership Committee.

By Sept. 30: Owners from both leagues will vote, and franchises will be awarded.

Spring 1992: New franchises will be allowed to field minor league teams.

Nov. 1992: New franchises will stock their major league rosters through a special draft of players from existing teams.

April 1993: New franchises begin major league play.