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Following Advice, Wiggins to Join Triple-A Las Vegas

Times Staff Writer

Tuesday night Padre second baseman Alan Wiggins was on his way to Edmonton, Alberta, where he will join the Las Vegas Stars, the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, for a 20-day rehabilitation period.

Wiggins was following the advice of the Major League Players Assn., which Tuesday advised him to accept the Padres’ rehabilitation assignment because National League President Charles (Chub) Feeney had given assurances Wiggins would be a member of the Las Vegas team.

Earlier, there had been the possibility that Wiggins would show up Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium and demand his uniform so he could begin working out with the Padres. But the potential confrontation was avoided when Wiggins signed the assignment papers.

“We were not confident that San Diego would give him a bona fide rehabilitation assignment,” said Eugene Orza, associate general counsel of the players association. “We thought they’d send him to Las Vegas and put him in some hole. But Feeney assured us that he’d get a legitimate assignment to play. We told him to sign.”

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So Wiggins, who last played a major league game April 24, will play again in the Padre organization, although Padre President Ballard Smith says he will never again play for the Padres.

Wiggins was put on the waiver list Monday, and when he comes off Friday, he will be eligible to be traded.

“Oh, there’s always that possibility,” Padre General Manager Jack McKeon said of a trade. “But I haven’t talked to anybody the last couple of days.”

Said Smith: “He’s going to Las Vegas now to try and get in shape to play. He realizes that it’s best for him.”

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Las Vegas began a 12-game trip that includes stops at Edmonton, Vancouver and Portland.

The players association, however, is still ready to file grievances. Orza spent part of Tuesday negotiating with baseball’s Player Relations Committee, and the subject was how many days Wiggins officially spent on the rehabilitation list before the Padres offered him assignment.

Wiggins spent 30 days in a drug treatment center, and Orza said only four more days should be counted against him, four days it would have taken Wiggins to collect his belongings and get ready to play. He supports the argument by pointing out that baseball’s Joint Review Counsel ruled Wiggins was ready to play upon leaving the drug center.

Meanwhile, the PRC says 43 days should be counted against Wiggins.

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Why does it matter? A player has 60 days to spend on this rehabilitation list before he loses all rights under the Joint Drug Agreement.

But Orza said, “He won his case (with the Joint Review Counsel), and the dates it took to get the Padres to come to trial are being held against him. They want to count the days it took to get him to the table. That’s ridiculous.”

If the PRC doesn’t see it his way today, Orza said he might file a grievance.

Wiggins was unavailable for comment Tuesday night, since he was catching a flight finally to play baseball.

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