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The Situation May Get Fishy in San Diego

With the city and club at an impasse on funding, the clock is ticking on the San Diego Padres’ hopes for a new ballpark, and possibly their future in San Diego.

Owner John Moores has offered to put

$100 million toward a $410-million redevelopment project that would include a $270-million ballpark near the downtown convention center and San Diego Bay, but the city has indicated it can’t afford the rest, that it needs additional help. The gap is estimated at $50 million, and the club has now turned to the county and Port Authority.

The deadline for submitting November ballot initiatives is Aug. 7. The Padres’ lease at Qualcomm Stadium expires after the 1999 season. The club has said it will accept a 30-year lease at a new ballpark but can’t survive at Qualcomm, despite averaging 31,957 this year and having drawn 11 crowds of 40,000 plus, which would exceed capacity at the proposed park.

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Four key players--Kevin Brown, Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley and Wally Joyner--are eligible for free agency when the season ends, and the Padres have indicated they might lack the money to retain all four without the assurance of more revenue at a new park.

There has long been speculation about a move to northern Virginia.

The Padres are also shadowed by owner Wayne Huizenga’s dismantling of the World Series champion Florida Marlins as they chase a division title.

“We could win it all, just like the Marlins, and then break the team up--that would be it,” Moores said.

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“Or we might have to suck it up for a year so we could handle the move with some grace. There are too many imponderables for me to even imagine. Huizenga took so much criticism for it, I don’t know if I could handle it.”

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Former replacement player Rick Reed (9-5, 2.71 earned-run average) was selected to the league’s All-Star pitching staff.

How will the New York Met respond when asked about his replacement background on the national stage?

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“I’ll say I don’t want to talk about that stuff and that’s the bottom line. Is that fair?”

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Former all-star catcher Todd Hundley, operating in left field on his rehab assignment after last year’s elbow reconstruction and apparently happy with the move, thus defusing any conflict with Mike Piazza, may return to the Mets’ lineup for the first game after the All-Star break. Meanwhile, the Mets scored 19 runs in the first two games this week after Manager Bobby Valentine moved Piazza, who was getting infrequent RBI opportunities, from No. 3 to No. 4 in the order, switching him with the .328-hitting John Olerud.

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The Cincinnati Reds aren’t through with their payroll purge. Jeff Shaw went to the Dodgers Saturday. Pete Harnisch and Barry Larkin are also expected to leave before the July 31 trade deadline. Larkin is one of three shortstops--Edgar Renteria and Royce Clayton are the others--the Padres have discussed.

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Red Manager Jack McKeon, on interleague play: “If you are a good team, you want to see the Royals, White Sox and Tigers. If you’re a fan, you want to see other teams.”

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The young Marlins had that awful 17-44 start but began the weekend before the All-Star break having played at a .591 clip over the previous three weeks.

Manager Jim Leyland continues to patch in rookie pitchers--one, Ryan Dempster, registered his first major league win against Boston last Sunday--and says, “Most of the time you send them a bottle of Dom Perignon when they win their first game. But our kids are so young, you send them a can of Ovaltine.”


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