PADRE NOTEBOOK : Gwynn Says Too Much Fuss Being Made Over Santiago

Despite the speculation surrounding Padre catcher Benito Santiago--fueled by his recent request to be traded as quickly as possible--his future has not been a distraction in the clubhouse, according to Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn.

"Why should it bother us," Gwynn said. "He's going to play. We're going to play. You guys (reporters) are the ones who are making a big deal about it.

"Hey, we've got other guys who are free agents too. We don't dwell on the negative. Leave him alone, and let him play."

Gwynn on the acquisition of third baseman Gary Sheffield: "My God, what a player. I'm not talking about a guy who can play a little third base, or hit .260 with 10 homers. I'm talking about a player. I've never paid much attention to him when he was in the other league, but when I saw him swing the bat (Sunday), I just said, 'Wow.'

"Just look at the way he plays defense. The man has more range than anybody I've played with. When Tony (Fernandez) came into the dugout the other day, I said, 'Tony, when's the last time you played with a third baseman with that kind of range?'

"He said, 'It's been a long time. A real long time.'

"He makes us an instant contender."

While the Padres still are attempting to make big deals involving catchers Santiago and Tom Lampkin, third baseman Craig Worthington and outfielder Thomas Howard, they did consummate a minor trade Monday.

They acquired right-handed reliever Terry Bross from the New York Mets in exchange for minor-league infielder Craig Bullock.

"Anytime you can get a relief pitcher with an arm like his, who can throw 88 to 91 m.p.h., you do it," said Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager.

Bross, who becomes the tallest player in the Padre organization at 6-feet-9, was assigned to the Padres' triple-A Las Vegas roster. Bross, 26, a former co-captain of the basketball team at St. John's University, made his major-league debut last season for the Mets. He has pitched only half a season at the triple-A level.

Bullock, 20, hit .234 with eight homers and 50 RBIs in 121 games for Class A Charleston last season.

In other trade talk, McIlvaine was pessimistic about trading Worthington to the Cleveland Indians by today's 11 a.m. deadline when all contracts become guaranteed. If he's not traded, he likely will be released, saving the Padres about $175,000 of his $235,000 salary.

Padre Notes

The Padres decided Monday to place Ed Whitson on the 60-day disabled list instead of the voluntary retired list. Whitson, who has a torn ligament in his right elbow, is not expected to be able to pitch again. "I'm going to come down to Cincinnati and see the boys for the opener," Whitson said, from his Columbus, Ohio, home. "That may be the last time I'll see them for awhile. It could be rough (emotionally) seeing them again." . . . Padre pitcher Larry Andersen, who has an inflamed right shoulder, was examined by one of the Angel doctors Monday morning to determine why the cortisone shot in his shoulder was not taking effect. Andersen was told it takes a full five days for the cortisone medication to work, and that he may be able to test the shoulder Wednesday. . . . Padre pitcher Craig Lefferts had his finest outing of the spring, pitching seven shutout innings, allowing only six hits. He now has walked only two batters in 29 2/3 innings this spring. "I've actually had better stuff in one outing this spring," he said, "but I felt strong from the first inning to the seventh. That's what was most pleasing." . . . The Padres put their starting infield on the field for the first time this spring when second baseman Kurt Stillwell, who has been sick with the flu, entered the game in the sixth inning. . . . Padre infielder/outfielder Phil Stephenson, who's bidding to push Howard out of the picture, went two for three with a double, raising his batting average to .308. Stephenson, who was out last season with avascular necrosis in his right knee, said he only feels pain in his knee once every 10 days.

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