JOHN SMOLTZ AGREED to a contract

extension yesterday that likely will keep him with the Braves for the rest of his career.

Smoltz is the guy who makes general managers shudder . . . and probably drink. In August 1987, he was a minor leaguer in the Tigers' system when he was traded to Atlanta for 36-year-old righthander Doyle Alexander.

Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts for the Tigers. Detroit won the division but lost to the Twins in the playoffs, when Alexander went 0-2.

Smoltz, who will be 40 next month, made his Atlanta debut in 1988 and since has fashioned a Hall of Fame career, along with striking out about 2,000 Phillies.

"Words can't describe how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to finish my career as an Atlanta Brave," Smoltz said in a statement. "I am thankful to the Braves organization for giving me the chance to play this long and to play out my entire career with one team."

Remember Smoltz when your favorite team is tempted to make that one big trade that could put them over the top. Remember Smoltz when you hear rumors of a possible trade - and, of course, nearly all trade

rumors sound appealing - and you blame your favorite team for not getting it done.

The Tigers will never forget him.

Welcome to the Bronx

Curt Schilling must be thrilled that his Red Sox will be in New York this weekend to face the Yankees.

We suspect that New York's inquiring minds will want to know whether Schilling's famous sock was bloody or touched up with paint.

Our first thought probably matched yours when he heard this: Schilling is such a publicity hound, almost like no other, he could have done it.

We say: Do the DNA on the sock, which is in Cooperstown. *

- Chuck Bausman