Padre injuries take luster off Portland visit

Exhibition game with Beavers amounts to a spring-training outing

It won't be an exhibition on the scale of last year's Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres show at PGE Park Ñ not even close.

Today's 4 p.m. game between the Padres and the Pacific Coast League affiliate Portland Beavers will be little more than the typical spring training contest, though it is the first local look at the Beavers and the only chance to see their parent club here.

'For us, it is just another spring training game,' Portland Manager Rick Sweet says. 'Exhibition games are just that Ñ exhibitions.'

The Padres and Mariners sold out PGE Park a year ago and would have liked to do it again this year, but Seattle was supposed to open the regular season in Japan and couldn't work a Portland exhibition into its schedule. In the end the Japan games were canceled because of the war in Iraq, but by then it was too late to get something going in the City of Roses.

San Diego will be missing plenty of key components today. Ace reliever Trevor Hoffman, catcher Wiki Gonzalez, and sluggers Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko are injured, and most of the starting pitchers are not expected to appear. The Padres open the regular season Monday. They will use their third starting pitcher Ñ who will start Wednesday's game against San Francisco Ñ for about 60 pitches in today's exhibition.

Sweet intends to start the eight position players and designated hitter he will use in the Beavers' opener Wednesday at Sacramento.

The lineup probably will include Yamid Haad at catcher, Tagg Bozied at first base, Bernie Castro at second, Donaldo Mendez at shortstop, Alex Pelaez at third, Alex Fernandez, Kory DeHaan and Jason Bay in the outfield, and Mark Quinn at DH.

Right-hander Carlton Loewer will likely pitch for Portland.

'We will get our players to work,' Sweet says. 'That is the biggest goal. Sure, both teams will try to win, but it's not knockdown, drag-out. The weather will determine how much the Padres' regulars play. If it's wet and slippery, they aren't going to risk injury.'

Sweet says he's been particularly impressed with the play of Bay and Bozied during the spring.

'Jason can flat-out hit, and he has done it all spring,' Sweet says. 'Tagg is a young guy coming up through our organization who played great in the Arizona fall league and carried it over to the spring.'

Beaver officials are hoping for a crowd of at least 10,000.

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