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PADRES UPDATE : NOTEBOOK / SCOTT MILLER : Roberts Encouraged by Progress in Recovery From Knee Injury

Bip Roberts, who took batting practice and jogged Friday for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week, said he hopes to return to the lineup soon.

“I am optimistic that in a week or so, maybe I’ll be playing again,” he said.

He took about 40 swings, almost all of them left-handed.

“I got a little sore at the end, but that’s to be expected,” he said.

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Roberts took a couple of swings right-handed but stopped when Merv Rettenmund, Padre batting coach, told him he wasn’t swinging naturally. It figures Roberts would come back slower from the right side of the plate because from that side he uses the left leg to step into pitches.

Larry Andersen rejoined the team Friday after his examination earlier this week at the Spine Care Clinic in Daly City. His ailing neck was examined by Dr. Jeff Saul and Dr. Arthur White, the doctor who performed back surgery on San Francisco 49er quarterback Joe Montana a few years ago.

Andersen said they explained to him that he has two herniated disks in his neck and that, considering the nature of his career, he should not undergo surgery. That’s not what Andersen wanted to hear.

“I was kind of hoping (I’d) have the operation and get it done,” Andersen said. “And being ready for spring training and having it be nothing I’d have to deal with anymore.”

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But Saul and White discussed the matter and recommended against it.

“They said that if we did the two-level (surgery), there is no guarantee you’d have the mechanics you need to pitch,” Andersen said.

Basically, he said, surgery would involve fusing a couple of disks together in his neck.

“They felt I would lose range of motion and probably not be able to pitch correctly,” he said.

“It’s frustrating. After I went on the disabled list the last time and came off, I felt like I was 100%. And then to have nothing happen (to cause the recent flare-up). ... It’s like Opening Day. That’s what’s always going to be in the back of my head. Is it going to come up like that again?

“From a career standpoint, it’s always going to be in the back of someone else’s head, too. But arm-wise and pitching-wise, I don’t see why I can’t keep pitching.”

Now, he hopes to be throwing in a week.

“Maybe that’s being over-optimistic,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

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Meanwhile, Andersen was left to play with a new toy somebody had mailed to him--a Tyco Fast Traxx radio-controlled car.

Dept. of Stupid Owner Tricks: It was a decade ago, but Andersen remembers it clearly. He was pitching for Seattle, and it was the early 1980s. And former Mariner owner George Argyros had an idea.

Andersen mentioned the bullpen carts that some teams use to bring in relievers from the bullpen. Well, he said, Argyros wanted the Mariners to get a fire truck to bring in the Mariner relievers from the bullpen.

You know, a fire truck to bring in the firemen.

“Talk to Mike Stanton, Bill Caudill, Ed VandeBerg, Shane Rawley (other relievers on the Mariner staff with Anderson),” Andersen said. “It’s a true story. You can ask any of them.

“They wanted us standing on the back of the fire truck.”

Andersen said they complained to then-Seattle Manager Rene Lachemann and eventually talked Argyros out of the idea.

No, Andy Benes said, he isn’t growing a beard. In fact, he planned to shave right after batting practice.

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He returned from the Padre trip with several days’ growth on his chin, and he explained that his wife had asked him to get rid of it.

“She doesn’t have any jurisdiction on the road,” Benes said. “She does at home.”

Ed Whitson, who is hoping his doctor clears him to begin throwing simulated games soon, said he would like to return this season since the Padres still haven’t decided whether to pick up the option on his contract. “I don’t know if they’re going to pick up my option, and I’m not going to sit on my ass,” he said. He would like to return and wants to prove he is healthy either to the Padres or to other organizations in case the Padres don’t pick up his option.


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