SAN DIEGO — Darn right Craig Shipley noticed.
When Shipley saw that catcher Dave Nilsson made his debut Monday night with Milwaukee in Detroit, becoming only the third Australian in major league history, Shipley--the second Australian--telephoned Nilsson to congratulate him.
Aside from Shipley and Nilsson, the only other Australian to play major league baseball was Mighty Joe Quinn, who finished his career with the Washington Senators in 1901.
"I just said 'Congratulations and good luck,' " said Shipley, who made the call Tuesday morning. "I told him it's the same game up here as it is in the minor leagues."
Shipley played with Nilsson's brother, Gary, in Australia but did not meet Dave before Tuesday's phone call. Dave Nilsson was born and still resides in Brisbane, Australia. Shipley was born in Sydney, Australia, but lives in Jupiter, Fla., in the off-season.
"We played (Milwaukee) in spring training but I never got to see him," Shipley said. "The day we played them, I got hurt. I had never met him--that's why I wanted to go talk to him."
Nilsson had a three-run double in Milwaukee's 9-1 victory over Detroit. Shipley, though, said Nilsson did not seem overly excited on the telephone.
"He seemed a lot like me," Shipley said. "Low key. He seemed to take it in stride.
"I just thought it would be nice to talk to him."
Tony Gwynn, who fractured the tip of the middle finger on his right hand when he slammed a car door on it Tuesday, might be ready to play by Friday or Saturday.
"It's a matter of getting the swelling and pain down," said Padre trainer Bob Day. "Once we do that, he'll be out there.
"I'm hoping to have him in the lineup at least by the weekend."
Gwynn skipped batting practice for the second day in a row and said he was going to have blood drained from underneath his finger nail before the game.
"It feels the same as (Tuesday)," Gwynn said.
Gene Harris, acquired by the Padres from Seattle on May 11, said he thinks he will be ready to be activated by Monday. The Padres, however, still aren't sure what they want to do when they remove him from the disqualified list. They have until June 11 to decide.
"There isn't any timetable," said Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager. "Basically, we're watching him every time out. That's the beauty of the disqualification rule--it's like a 30-day tryout camp."
Harris, a right-handed pitcher, threw on the side Wednesday and will pitch a simulated game Friday. Because he is out of options, the Padres either have to activate him on the major league roster or, if they want to send him to the minors, put him through waivers.
"I'm close to being ready," said Harris, who is looking for an apartment in San Diego. "I'm shooting for Monday."
As for the other injured pitchers. . . .
Dave Eiland, on the 15-day disabled list with back troubles, also will throw a simulated game Friday.
Larry Andersen, on the disabled list with a bruised forearm, was pleased Wednesday after throwing on the side for 15 minutes.
"I felt real good," Andersen said. "I was pretty much letting it go."
Andersen, who is eligible to come off of the DL anytime, said he isn't sure what the Padres are planning for him.
"A lot is going to depend on how it feels (today), I think," Andersen said.
Second baseman Kurt Stillwell, who has been out with tendinitis in his right wrist since May 13, took batting practice for the first time in a week and was optimistic he will be back soon.
"It was refreshing to see a bright side," Stillwell said.
He hit right-handed in the Padres' indoor batting cage and said he hopes to take live batting practice today.
"If I can talk them into it," he said.
Frank Seminara, whom the Padres are watching closely, was hit hard for triple-A Las Vegas Tuesday night. Seminara (5-1) allowed five runs (four earned) and nine hits in six innings at Albuquerque. "It was a sub-par outing," McIlvaine said. "Albuquerque is a pretty good hitting team. It wasn't any one thing. He just got beat." . . . . Met pitcher Bret Saberhagen (tendinitis in his right index finger) rejoined the team during Tuesday night's game after returning to New York to have the finger examined. Saberhagen was scratched from his turn Wednesday and will probably miss Monday's turn against Cincinnati. The Mets are hoping he will return May 31. . . . McIlvaine accompanied his son Tim's class to a "dude ranch" Wednesday morning. "It was a farm with cows and horses," McIlvaine said. "It was wonderful.". . . Pitching matchups for this weekend's Padres-Cubs series: The Padres' Andy Benes (4-3) vs. Greg Maddux (4-3) Friday; Bruce Hurst (3-3) vs. Mike Morgan (3-2) Saturday; and Jose Melendez (4-2) vs. Frank Castillo (2-3) Sunday.