HERSHISER GIVES $5,000 TO FAMILY FOR BONDS' BALL: When Barry Bonds hit his 400th homer on Sunday, Bonds got the ball and the Hall of Fame got his spikes. And a Florida family got a financial boost, thanks to the generosity of Orel Hershiser.

Hershiser gave a $5,000 check to the family in exchange for the ball that San Francisco Giants teammate Bonds hit to become the first player in major league history with 400 homers and 400 stolen bases.The homer came in a game against the Marlins in Miami. The ball was caught in the right-field seats by Joe Sica of Hialeah, Fla., who offered to give Bonds the ball in exchange for an autograph.

Hershiser was in the clubhouse when Sica came by with his wife and two kids.

"The game was going on and the family was brought to the clubhouse. They didn't want any money, they just wanted to meet Barry and get an autograph. They were going to give him the ball," Hershiser said Wednesday.

The Sicas were offered money by collectors for the ball.

"They had been offered $5,000 for it and I could see that it was a sensitive issue, because the wife had tears in her eyes," Hershiser said. "They were good people who were short of money. So I didn't hesitate in telling them I would get them their money."

BASEBALL TO RESEARCH SUPPLEMENTS: In the wake of Mark McGwire's admission that he's been using a testosterone-producing pill, major league baseball and the players union have asked doctors to research the players' use of the muscle-enhancing supplements.

The announcement by commissioner Bud Selig and union chief Donald Fehr on Wednesday came after McGwire admitted to The Associated Press last week that he has been using androstenedione for more than a year.

"Obviously, the health of our players is of vital concern for all of us and we want to take every precaution to assure they receive the most accurate medical and scientific information," Selig said.

Use of androstenedione (pronounced Andro-steen'-die-own) is legal in baseball but banned in the NFL, Olympics and the NCAA.

GALARRAGA PLANS APPEAL: Andres Galarraga plans to appeal his three-game suspenion and $1,000 fine for charging the mound against Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Darren Dreifort.

"I hit two home runs and he hits me in the ribs," Galarraga said Wednesday night. "I'm going to defend myself."

LITTLE LEAGUE WS: Kevin Hodges started the rally from the batter's box, then ended the game from the mound in Williamsport, Pa.

With Greenville, N.C., down 4-0, Hodges singled to start a four-run fourth inning, hit the second of back-to-back home runs in the fifth and struck out the final six batters - to lead his team to a 6-4 win over Cypress, Calif., and a trip to tonight's U.S. final in the Little League World Series.