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NOTEBOOK / ALAN DROOZ : Gwynn Changes Mind, Will Finish the Season

When Tony Gwynn left the doctor Thursday, he was resigned to having immediate surgery on his sore left knee.

When he got up Friday morning, the knee felt better, the news was better and Gwynn changed his mind. He was in uniform Friday, took batting practice, was available to pinch-hit and hopes to be in the lineup today.

“I’ll pick my spots, hopefully be able to maintain it and play five or six days in a row before (the knee gets sore), if it does,” Gwynn said after taking a private session of batting practice, then hitting with the reserves.

“It’s cliche time, but we’re taking it one day at a time. The biggest thing is I’m not going to injure it anymore than it is.”

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Gwynn, leads the National League with a .325 average, has been playing with pain and swelling in the knee since mid-August and a cartilage tear was feared. On Thursday, he underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test that showed the medial meniscus cartilage appears sound. That convinced Gwynn to try to finish out the season.

“I had decided on surgery (Thursday),” he said. “The pain is gonna stay; it was like ‘I give up.’ But after I left the doctor’s office and was driving home I decided that’s not the way I’m sure I want to go. I woke up this morning and said, ‘Nope, I’m not gonna have (surgery).’ I’ll just suck it up. Knowing it’s not the meniscus makes it easier for me to deal with.

“I actually changed my mind. It’s hard for me to accept that (the season) is over, that’s it. I decided to tough it out, finish the year, do what I can do. I feel good about that. You can’t endanger the rest of your career for 28 games--I’m more aware of that than anybody. But I sat out the end of last year (with a broken thumb), and it sucks.”

Gwynn said he expects to have arthroscopic surgery after the season, but Padre trainer Bob Day said that might be avoided depending on how Gwynn’s knee responds.

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“The MRI didn’t show anything different than before,” Day said. “It’s gotten so bad because Tony kept playing on it. Chances of further harm are pretty minimal. We’ll continue treatments and go by how he feels.”

Former Padres pitcher Dave Dravecky, recovering from the amputation of his arm and shoulder because of cancer, thanked fans for their support in a taped message Friday and said he will appear at the Sept. 20 game here against the Giants. Dravecky will address fans before the game. Sept. 20 was chosen to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Padres’ clinching their only division title. Dravecky got the save that night.

The Padres complete their series with the Cardinals and the nine-game home stand tonight, then have a rare Sunday off before opening a road trip in Houston Monday. Bruce Hurst, trying to become the fourth pitcher in the N.L. with at least 16 victories, faces Ken Hill. . . . The Padres have a team earned-run average of 2.80 in their last 18 home games. On Aug. 9, before beginning a 10-game home stand, the Padres had a 22-28 home record, second-worst in the league to the Montreal Expos. In the almost two home stands since, that pitching has produced an 11-7 record. . . . The Padres have hit 34 home runs in the past 26 games. The Padres are 15-11 over that span.


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