Padres' Rob Ramsay works on recovering after brain surgery

Rob Ramsay hopes to pitch again Ñ perhaps even this season.

'But baseball isn't my No. 1 goal right now,' says the left-hander from Mountain View High in Vancouver, Wash., who underwent surgery in January for a malignant brain tumor.

Ramsay, 28, is undergoing chemotherapy after surgeons removed 'as much as they could' from the baseball-sized tumor that had been causing him headaches.

The former Washington State and Seattle Mariners pitcher, now with San Diego, has been at his Pullman, Wash., home since the surgery, first undergoing radiation, then beginning the rehabilitation process while having chemo treatments.

The Padres are flying him to San Diego for their home opener Monday against World Series champion Arizona.

'I am feeling really good,' Ramsay says. 'I have been lifting, running and throwing the past couple of weeks. I have lost about 10 pounds since the surgery, but I am getting my strength back.'

Ramsay pitched 43 games Ñ mostly in relief Ñ with the Mariners in 1999 and 2000. He will find out more about his future when he meets with specialists in San Francisco on Wednesday.

'I am looking forward to beating this thing,' says Ramsay, whose parents and brother live in Camas, Wash. 'I am learning a lot about what it involves. As a little more of a public figure than most, I hope I can help other people in my situation understand what it's all about.'

• San Francisco's Jason Schmidt, who pitched just two innings of spring training because of a groin injury, was close to returning to the mound last week when he received word that his mother, who lives in Portland, was seriously ill.

The Longview, Wash., native flew to Portland to be with her. A Giants official says she is OK, and Schmidt is in Arizona on a rehabilitation assignment. He's not ticketed to pitch until at least mid-April.

Schmidt re-signed with the Giants in December to the tune of four years and $30 million, but he nearly became a Mariner. He grew up a Seattle fan and planned to sign with the M's when his contract expired at the end of last season.

'My mind was made up,' he says. 'I didn't care what any other team offered.'

But after a midseason trade from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, Schmidt finished the season 7-1 in 11 starts with the Giants. Seattle pursued him heavily in the offseason and even offered him more money. Schmidt turned it down.

'I got a chance to see the light at the other end of the National League tunnel, with a team that had a chance to win the pennant,' Schmidt says. 'Going through the last two months, playing with those guys, playing for (manager) Dusty Baker É it made me think.

'I might be the only guy in America to turn down his hometown team for less money. But I have no regrets. I sit back and think it would be nice to play for Seattle some day, but at this point in my career, I would rather be in San Francisco.'

• Oregon seniors Freddie Jones and Chris Christoffersen are among 64 players showing off their talents at the Portsmouth (Va.) NBA pre-draft camp, which began Wednesday. The camp has taken on added meaning since the Phoenix Desert Classic was canceled this year.

• After his split with Oregon State and Ritchie McKay, basketball coach at the time, Jimmie Haywood said he would transfer to the University of Portland. Now, the junior guard may wait and see who the Beavers hire as the new coach.

Haywood has remained in school in Corvallis. He says Portland remains his No. 1 option, 'but I'm not quite sure now. I want to see what happens (with the OSU job) before making a final decision.'

• When he was with the San Francisco 49ers, former Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave chewed up a couple of chocolate PowerBars and put the resulting mess in teammate Steve Young's helmet. Guess what it looked like someone had done when Young went to put on the helmet? 'Bless his heart,' Musgrave tells ESPN Magazine, 'Steve was never suspicious of anyone.'

• Longtime NHL defenseman Dave Babych, who played for the Portland Winter Hawks in the late '70s, has filed a $2 million lawsuit against the Philadelphia Flyers, alleging improper and fraudulent medical advice to pressure him to play with an injury that led to a premature retirement.

Babych, 40, retired in 1999 after 19 years in the NHL. The suit claims he was coerced by the team to take a painkilling injection in his broken left foot to play in a playoff game the previous season. The club claims that Babych received proper medical advice, and that any lingering pain was the result of his many years in the league. The suit is scheduled to go to court this summer.

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