BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : DODGERS : Snyder Close to Returning?

Cory Snyder arrived in St. Louis on Wednesday with a brace on his right knee. He was about five pounds lighter, but his injuries apparently have healed. He worked out before the game and ran on the artificial turf at Busch Stadium, but the Dodgers said they will wait and see how Snyder's knee feels today before activating him.

Snyder struggled in spring, first suffering a strained lower back while working on a new swing. While that was mending, he strained a muscle in his side while swinging. Then, he re-injured his back taking grounders and later twisted his knee in a B game. He never played in a major league exhibition game this spring.

When he is activated, he is expected to platoon with Henry Rodriguez in left field. Outfielder Billy Ashley is expected to be sent down to triple-A Albuquerque.

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Relief pitcher Vincent Palacios, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals before the season, split last season pitching for the Yucatan Lions and the Aguascaliente Railroadmen of the Mexican League. But the Lions released Palacios last year because he was making too much money for a last-place team. He was making $8,000 a month, which is $13,000 short of the minimum wage paid a major league player. Palacios, a right-hander, is making $140,000 playing for the Cardinals. He spent six years in the Pittsburgh organization before being released after shoulder surgery in 1992.

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Carlos Hernandez, on the disabled because of a sprained lower back, is feeling better and will go to extended camp in Vero Beach today to rehabilitate. . . . Dr. Maurice Stauffer, a longtime friend of the Dodgers who provided care for the late Walter O'Malley at the Mayo Clinic, died Tuesday night at 78. . . . Dodger President Peter O'Malley was honored in the Dominican Republic by the Sports Writers Assn. of Santo Domingo for his longtime support of baseball there.

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