SAN DIEGO — Tim Raines in left and Tony Gwynn in right?
It has a nice ring.
Gwynn of the Padres and Raines of the Montreal Expos, who is eligible to become a free agent after this season, had been hoping to become teammates in San Diego.
But now those hopes seem remote.
That's because owner Joan Kroc and team president Ballard Smith said the Padres have no interest in Raines because he was treated for cocaine dependency in 1982.
Said Kroc: "They'll (players with substance-abuse problems) never have a second chance with the Padres."
Said Smith: "I think Montreal did the right thing in getting him into treatment and giving him a second chance. But the Padres will never take a player that had a substance-abuse problem. Never. Tim Raines is not going to play here."
Raines, told about Smith's statement before Wednesday's game between the Padres and Expos, reacted strongly.
"Who is this Smith?" asked Raines. "San Diego probably would have been my first choice. They are an excellent club and they could use a leadoff man to become a contender. This year, they don't have a true leadoff man. . . .
"I would like to be thinking that this would be one of the places I could come. Now, I guess I have to scratch them off the list.
"When you get in a situation like I've been in and get yourself clean and do well afterwards, I guess some people still don't care. If they have that opinion of me, then I guess I wouldn't want to come here anyways.
". . . Why don't they look at the past three years? When you talk about the past, you are talking about five years ago. If they look at that, they have a problem. Not me.
"I'm over the problem I had. If they want to hold that over my head, I don't feel that will stop me from doing what I want to do."
Last year, the Padres traded Alan Wiggins to Baltimore after he was treated for a cocaine-abuse relapse.
In the case of Raines--a .300 hitter who has averaged 77 stolen bases in the last five years--Gwynn is quite disappointed. Not only does Gwynn want Raines getting on base ahead of him, but the Expo star is also his friend.
"When something like this happens, it's very discouraging," Gwynn said. "It's terrible. It's unfortunate. I'm really disappointed.
"There's a guy (Raines) who's been a model citizen for the last four or five years. And he's one of the most consistent players in the National League. He's a guy who can have an impact on whatever team he goes to.
"He gets shut down over things that happened five years ago. In a way I can understand, because we've had bad instances with drugs. But you have to ask yourself if this guy can help our ballclub and be a positive influence on our community. He wasn't even given a chance to let the Padres know."
Gwynn has been encouraging Raines to consider coming to the Padres for the last three years.
Before Tuesday night's game, Gwynn and Raines discussed in front of television cameras the National League batting race, in which Gwynn (.340) led Raines (.334) by six points entering Wednesday's game.
Off camera, they joked about possibly becoming teammates next season.
"Tony was pretty excited when I said I might come here," Raines said. "We have been talking and my wife and his wife have been talking."