By John Maffei
March 19, 2002
PEORIA, Ariz.—You expect pulls and strains in training camp. With more than 100 players vying for jobs, injuries are inevitable. The Padres, however, have suffered a number of unusual setbacks this spring.
It started at a preseason physical, where righthander Chris Rojas, who went 10-5, 3.45 at Class A Lake Elsinore last season, found out he had internal bleeding into his abdomen. He’s being treated for an ulcer.
In the first days of camp, outfielder Todd Donovan broke his left hand while making a diving catch in an exhibition game. Donovan played in just 41 games at Lake Elsinore last season after a pair of broken thumbs—one diving for a ball in the outfield, one sliding into a base. One of the few position prospects on the 40-man roster, Donovan had a surgical plate placed in his hand and will be out until July.
Days after Donovan was hurt, utility player Shane Hopper, who split time between Double-A Mobile and Lake Elsinore last season, was kicked and beaten by as many as 15 people outside a Phoenix nightclub.
Hopper lost two liters of blood and doctors had to remove his spleen. He is out indefinitely.
A week later, and just days after winning the minor league camp’s 60-yard dash in a blazing 6.29 seconds, outfielder Marcus Nettles found out he has several cysts inside his left arm. Trainers said the cysts put him at increased risk to fracture the humerus—the big bone in the upper arm.
Nettles, an 11th-round pick last season, hit .300-0-10 and stole 35 bases in 55 games at short-season Eugene.
The good news was that pitcher Ben Howard, who was a passenger in the wreck that killed outfielder Mike Darr, was fine. After a few days off, Howard—who was a combined 10-2 at Lake Elsinore and Mobile last season—was back throwing.