PADRES UPDATE : NOTEBOOK / SCOTT MILLER : Whitson Wants to Return in Four or Five Weeks

His elbow is swollen and bruised from Monday's arthroscopic surgery, but Padre pitcher Ed Whitson was back in the clubhouse Friday, already working on a rehabilitation program and saying he thinks he can return in four or five weeks.

Whitson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery for a bone spur in his elbow, said the doctor who performed the surgery--James Andrews of Alabama, who is also Bo Jackson's doctor--told him he would be ready to pitch in a big-league game in four to eight weeks.

"I'm looking at four to five weeks," Whitson said. "I heal quick."

His current rehabilitation program consists of a machine manipulating his arm through five different exercises. He said he expects to begin throwing in about two weeks.

The wait will be made easier by a few of Andrews' comments to Whitson.

"He told me it was highly unlikely I'd ever get (bone spurs) again in my career," Whitson said. "He sent a report back to San Diego saying this is the best elbow he's ever seen come through his office."

Now, while he waits to throw again, Whitson has to figure out what to do with one particular jar at home.

"(Dr. Andrews) gave me all of the shavings from the elbow," Whitson said. "I told my wife I'll make her a set of earrings. She said, 'No you're not.' "

Considering Whitson's $1.2 million contract this season, someone mentioned to him that those are expensive shavings.

"They're worth more than $1 million to me," he said.

He was smiling.

Before his injury, Whitson's name croped up in various trade rumors. One rumor had the Angels interested in him; another had Montreal acquiring him for Tim Burke. The Expos ended up sending Burke to the Mets for Ron Darling early this week.

Whitson, 36, has been in the major leagues at least 10 seasons, and with one team for five, so he has the right to refuse any trade.

So you can immediately count out the Angels.

"There ain't no way in hell I'm going to the American League," said Whitson, who had a rough time with the Yankees in the mid-1980s.

And you can cross Montreal off the list.

"It's a nice place to visit, but I'd never want to play there," Whitson said.

His preference, he said, is to finish his career in San Diego. But, if a trade were made, where would he prefer to go? Cincinnati.

"I'd love to play there," said Whitson, who is from the Columbus, Ohio, area. "It's close to home.

"Cincinnati, Atlanta, the Cubs, there are a lot of teams in the National League I'd like to go to. But like I said, I'd love to finish up here."

Manager Greg Riddoch said he will skip Adam Peterson's turn in the rotation next week because of the Padres' off day Monday. But although he emphasized that Peterson will remain in the rotation and Jose Melendez in the bullpen, he hinted that there might be changes.

"This gives us a chance to think about what direction we're going to go," Riddoch said.

In his last two starts combined, Peterson has pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed eight hits and nine earned runs.

The updated Padre rotation: Greg Harris is scheduled to pitch tonight against Philadelphia; Bruce Hurst will go Sunday; Monday is an off day; Andy Benes will start Tuesday against Montreal and Dennis Rasmussen, who pitched Friday, will start again Wednesday.

Philadelphia second baseman Randy Ready was scratched from the starting lineup just before game time Friday when he was informed that his mother had died. . . . Down on the Farm: First baseman Dave Staton continues to have a good year for triple-A Las Vegas, collecting 18 homers and 57 RBIs through Thursday. Brian Dorsett is second on the team with 12 homers, and Jim Vatcher is second with 44 RBIs. Frank Seminara is 12-6 with a 3.07 ERA at double-A Wichita. Pitcher Rafael Valdez has begun rehabilitation after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Thursday on his glenoid labrum and rotator cuff. He is expected to be sidelined for about six weeks. . . . The Padres have used 41 players this season, one short of the club record set in 1969. A total of 12 different pitchers have started a game.

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