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PADRES : Dunne Tries to Reverse His Fortunes

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are times, usually when he’s alone, when Mike Dunne thinks about the events of the past three years. He wonders why, why always him?

Then he stops, because he knows if he continues, he’ll only cry.

It hardly seems possible that only four years ago, in 1987 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was selected The Sporting News’ rookie pitcher of the year. A year later, he was the opening-day pitcher for the Pirates.

Then his career began to unravel.

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He suffered a strained rib cage in the summer of 1988. He was traded to Seattle in 1989, began suffering shoulder problems and finished the season by undergoing arthroscopic surgery. He was picked up by the Padres during the winter draft, pitched a no-hitter in triple-A Las Vegas, was called up to the Padres in May and broke his leg in July.

Now, he’s back again, trying to win a job as a middle reliever with the Padres, knowing that he could be released at any time.

“I don’t think they’ll even want me to stay around in the minors if I don’t make it,” Dunne said. “It’s either make it now, or I’m out of here. It’s not a real good feeling.”

Dunne pitched three shutout innings Saturday in the Padres’ 6-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, allowing three hits and two walks. It wasn’t picturesque by any means, but considering Dunne entered the game with a 13.50 ERA, yielding eight hits in four innings, he’s wasn’t complaining.

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“I’ve had my share of bad luck, that’s for sure,” Dunne, 28, said. “But I’ve got a good attitude about it. I’ve got the same attitude I’ve always had. Everything happens for a reason, right?”

And please, Dunne asks, if someone comes up with a reason, please let him know.

Padre Notes

Padre starter Dennis Rasmussen pitched off the mound for the first time in 10 days since developing tendinitis in his left shoulder. He threw 20 pitches and reported no discomfort. . . . First baseman Phil Stephenson, who has a broken bone in his right knee, was examined Saturday by one Padre doctor, and will receive a second opinion today. He said he expects to undergo an operation, possibly as early as this week.

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