At 33, Manitoba native Corey Koskie may be done as a major-league baseball player.

Sources say the symptoms from Koskie's post-concussion syndrome are lingering and are significant. They also say medical experts have told the former all-star that that he would be taking major risks if he tried to play again.

Koskie is the property of the Milwaukee Brewers and is drawing a salary this season of $6.75-million U.S. However, the Toronto Blue Jays are paying him most of his stipend. The Jays are on the hook for $4.75-million. The Brewers, $2-million.


Koskie was signed by the Jays as a free agent before the 2005 season. They dealt the third baseman after that season to Milwaukee, but the Brewers agreed to take him only if Toronto agreed to eat most of his salary.

•In the mighty-have-fallen-quite-quickly department are the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the World Series last season but who entered Thursday night in the cellar of the National League Central.

"We've had a series of difficult situations to deal with," acknowledged Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "In all my years as a big-league manager, I don't ever recall having to deal with this much adversity at the start of a season."

It all started in spring training, when La Russa himself was busted for drunk driving after he was found by police asleep and hunched over his steering wheel in the middle of an intersection near the Cards' training camp in Jupiter, Fla.

Then, shortly after the regular season opened, St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter was diagnosed with an arm problem that has kept him inactive on the disabled list.

The death in a car crash of reliever Josh Hancock a few days ago has hit the Cards especially hard, and the tragedy continues to plague the team, not only because of the obvious emotional reasons but also because reports keep popping up that Hancock had developed a drinking problem, that there were other, minor car crashes involving him shortly before his death and that La Russa had been on his case for late arrivals to games. There also was a report this week that marijuana was found in Hancock's car.

Things are so bad with the Cards that their left fielder, Chris Duncan, actually wound up with a 12-stitch gash on the top of his head the other day after he jumped down some steps and accidentally banged the ceiling at his apartment.

• The laughter you're hearing is coming from Roger Clemens and his agents.

Refusing to sign for the first part of this season has turned out to be tremendous strategy for the 46-year-old pitcher. His market value has shot up because of the New York Yankees' early-season struggles.

The Yanks, predicted by many to breeze to a title this season, have serious pitching woes and languish at the bottom the AL East. Club owner George Steinbrenner is getting restless, rumblings are strong that Joe Torre's days as manager are numbered (despite a public vote of confidence from Steinbrenner), conditioning and strength coach Marty Miller was made a scapegoat and has been fired because of all the Yankees' injuries, and there's simply a general state of unrest in the clubhouse of baseball's highest-paid club.

And so Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is just sitting back and presumably relaxing with the knowledge that he'll eventually be chuckling all the way to the bank.

"Right now, Roger is in no hurry to return, but he will," said one of the pitcher's agents, Randy Hendricks. "He'll be back eventually and we certainly know the Yankees are interested. They've been trying to get Roger to sign, and we understand that, but he won't come back until the time is right for him. And, as we've said all along, Roger would like to eventually return to one of three clubs, the Yankees, Boston or Houston. Nothing has changed on that."

Except, that is, Clemens' potential salary.

• Seldom in the long history of MLB has a pitcher dominated a team the way the Astros' Roy Oswalt dominates the Cincinnati Reds.

After beating the Reds Wednesday night, Oswalt has a career record of 18-1 against Cincinnati.

Since 1900, only four other pitchers won at least 18 of their first 19 decisions against a particular team: Ed Reulbach against the Reds, Larry Jackson against the New York Mets, Juan Marichal against the Mets and Tom Seaver against the San Diego Padres.

C.C. Sabathia allowed three home runs in the first inning Tuesday night, but only one hit over his remaining five innings in the Cleveland Indians' 12-4 win over the Blue Jays — and that made the big guy the first pitcher to earn a victory after allowing three first-inning homers since 1969, when Steve Blass was tagged by Pete Rose, Bobby Tolan and Johnny Bench in an 8-5 victory for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Reds.