Los Angeles right-hander Orel Hershiser threw batting practice yesterday for the first time since reporting to camp and experienced no pain.
Hershiser, on the mend from reconstructive shoulder surgery, threw 52 pitches to Mike Scioscia, Gary Carter and Alfredo Griffin in a 10-minute session.
"It felt really good. I threw the ball properly," said Hershiser, who had thrown batting practice twice in winter workouts in Los Angeles. "I didn't have any pain or stiffness. I thought my mechanics were good. I threw a lot of strikes."
"Orel had a lot of pop on the ball today," Scioscia said. "I was very impressed with the way he threw the ball. He's looking like the Orel of old."
Hershiser has set a goal of being ready by opening day, but admits he still has some hurdles to cross before he can even pitch in spring exhibition games.
Hershiser, the 1988 Cy Young Award winner, hurt his shoulder last April and missed the rest of the season.
* METS: Dwight Gooden changed his mind yesterday and decided his agent could continue negotiating an extension of the pitcher's contract.
Gooden, seeking a deal to match the four-year, $21.4 million contract Roger Clemens received from the Boston Red Sox, had set a Friday deadline on the talks and rejected a three-year, $13 million offer from the Mets. He has one year remaining on his current contract and will earn $2.25 million for 1991.
"I did a lot of thinking after Friday," Gooden said. "I really wasn't comfortable the way things sat. When I came to the ballpark Saturday, everyone was around my locker, wanting to talk and rehash the contract. I didn't want to have to go through that anymore.
"I read some of the papers, and it didn't seem like me. I decided to take the pressure off and do away with the deadline."
Gooden said he advised his agent, Jim Neader, that he could continue talks with the Mets during the season.
* ASTROS: Pitcher Pete Harnisch, traded into the National League from the Baltimore Orioles in the off-season, apparently hasn't lost his batting eye in the seven years since he last took batting practice. Harnisch hit two ball over the left-field yesterday in Kissimmee, Fla.
"Just watching him in the batting cage, I see the want in his eyes. He's competitive," manager Art Howe said.
* REDS: Pitcher Rob Dibble was back at camp yesterday, a day after he was sent home for treatment of an upper respiratory problem.
The reliever took part in drills and insisted his absence had nothing to do with his dissatisfaction with contract talks with the team.
"I wouldn't miss because of that," he said. "At least, not yet."
Dibble asked for a new contract or to be traded during the National League playoffs last fall. He later apologized and said he'd leave all money matters to his agent, Eric Goldschmidt.
* ANGELS: Chuck Finley will have no excuse if he's not ready for California's season opener April 9: He's known since last October that he will be the opening day pitcher in Seattle.
"They gave me the pitching chart for the last game last year and said, 'Here. A hundred and forty days from now you get to pitch the first game,' " said Finley.