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PADRES UPDATE / NOTEBOOK : Greg Harris Undergoes Surgery, Will Be Out About Six Weeks

June 23, 1992|SCOTT MILLER

SAN DIEGO — Pitcher Greg Harris underwent surgery on the middle finger on his right hand Monday, during which Drs. Merlin Hamer, the Padres' hand specialist, and Jan Fronek inserted two small screws in the finger.

Fronek said Harris will begin rehabilitation within the next week to 10 days and will probably be sidelined about six weeks.

"We were glad there was no extension or additional fragmentation," Fronek said.

He called it a "bad fracture" but was pleased that the broken bone did not go into the joint.

The Padres placed Harris on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of first baseman-outfielder Phil Stephenson from triple-A Las Vegas.

General Manager Joe McIlvaine said the Padres have not yet decided who will take Harris' place in the starting rotation.

"We're going to have to look and see what happens," McIlvaine said. "We don't need a (fifth) starting pitcher until Monday; that's the way I look at it."

McIlvaine said the Padres can either bring somebody out of the bullpen, call someone up from Las Vegas or make a trade.

"Trades are almost non-existent right now--just witness the rest of baseball," McIlvaine said.

He said that two general managers--one from the AL and one from the NL--called Monday, but McIlvaine wouldn't say which teams the general managers represented and which players they were asking about.

McIlvaine said Craig Lefferts' back has improved, so he will probably make his scheduled start Thursday.

McIlvaine on the screws in Harris' finger: "He'll be able to scuff the ball great. Us old pitchers think of everything."

The Padres became even more well-acquainted with the disabled list before Monday's game, but only because Ed Whitson stopped by the clubhouse.

Whitson, who is on the 60-day disabled list and is probably at the end of his career because of a torn ligament in his right elbow, arrived in San Diego on Thursday with his wife and two children to take care of some business.

Several Padres came up and warmly shook Whitson's hand upon seeing him.

"I walked in the locker room and the boys treated me like I've been here all along," Whitson said. "That's what I miss. I was always one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave.

"I'd sit here five minutes and have the back of my head smacked 10 times. I miss that."

Whitson, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said he has decided to keep his house in San Diego for the time being.

"I'll see what happens with the (Padre) organization," Whitson said. "If there's anything I can do whatsoever. . . ."

Does Whitson want to become a pitching coach?

"If there's a place for me, I'd love to do it," he said. "I told (Padre Manager) Greg (Riddoch) a long time ago, a good 10 months ago, that I'd like to try being a pitching coach some day."

Whitson said two of the five tears in his elbow have healed, giving him hope that he will not have to eventually undergo reconstructive elbow surgery. But although his doctor told him he could easily tear the ligament again even after it heals, Whitson is not ready to admit he is retired.

"Not officially," he said. "I'll watch the elbow and see what happens. The door is still open, but not real far."

How bad is the Padres' health? The problems have even spread to the coaching staff.

Riddoch spent two hours preceding Monday's game lying down in his office with the lights out, sick with the flu. And . . .

Bench coach Jimmy Snyder will probably miss today's game because he is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on a knee.

"I was going to be back (today) but I forgot it was a 1:05 game," Snyder said.

He said he hurt the knee in 1988 when he was a coach in the Seattle organization. It happened, he said, as he was throwing batting practice.

He underwent surgery then but aggravated it while hitting fungoes when the Padres were in Atlanta two weekends ago. He further aggravated it during the Padres' brawl in San Francisco on Thursday and decided to have the operation.

The Dream Team: No, not the Padres. The USA Olympic basketball team opened practice at UC San Diego on Monday, and Magic Johnson visited the Padre clubhouse before the game. . . . Catcher Benito Santiago, out with a broken finger, was in the Padre clubhouse before the game and said he is hoping to return by early July. . . . Dodger pitcher Ramon Martinez, who has a strained left hip, will not be able to make his start today. Instead, the Dodgers said they will start Tom Candiotti on three days' rest. . . . First baseman Fred McGriff missed his fourth consecutive start with a strained rib cage. "In an emergency, emergency, emergency, I can play," he said before the game. . . . The Padres were again without outfielder Oscar Azocar, who flew to Venezuela to be with his wife, who went into labor Saturday and is expected to give birth to twin girls. McIlvaine said he hadn't heard whether the Azocar babies had arrived but said he hoped Azocar would be back by Thursday.

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