When Jim Shearer walked into work yesterday, he ignored the plans sitting on his desk. Whoever is waiting for the 28-year-old architect to finish the design of a balcony at a high-end housing project will have to wait a bit longer.

So, apparently, will baseball fans who want to know what Shearer plans to do with his excuse for slacking off: catching Mark McGwire's 500th home run ball.

"I've thought about it," Shearer said. "I guess I'll sell it, keep it or give it to the Hall of Fame."

The part of history Shearer grabbed Thursday night in the left-center field stands at Busch Stadium is tucked away in a safe deposit box at Bank of America Tower in downtown St. Louis. Baseball experts said the ball might be worth $1 million.

RISING BELL: Former 3B Buddy Bell has been promoted to director of player development for the Reds. The job opened when Muzzy Jackson resigned to become an assistant general manager with the Royals. . . .

The Cubs promoted OF Chad Meyers and LHP Andrew Lorraine from Class AAA Iowa. To make room on the roster, the Cubs optioned LHP Ray King to Iowa.