Welch's knee is a mystery problem xHC

February 24, 1992

Something is not right with Bob Welch's left knee, and the Oakland Athletics are concerned about it.

Welch, a 27-game winner when he won the American League Cy Young Award in 1990, felt a pop in the knee while squatting to read to his son on Super Bowl Sunday.

The right-hander, 11-11 last season, underwent a Magnetic TTC Resonance Imaging test the next day and the results showed no damage.

"It's not sore. It's not painful. It just feels different," said Welch, who was held to limited duty and didn't throw during the first two days of training camp.

Welch, 35, said he had cartilage removed from the knee 17 years ago but that the joint has been fine since then. He is scheduled to be examined again by one of the team orthopedic specialists today.

* ANGELS: The club is making plans to open the season without pitcher Chuck Finley, whose recovery from toe surgery is coming along more slowly than anticipated.

"I'm preparing like he's not going to be there," manager Buck Rodgers said, "so that if he is, that's going to be a plus. But we can't go through spring hoping that Chuck is going to be one of our pitchers, because I don't have any idea. We've got to pick and prepare five starters without Chuck Finley."

Finley, 18-9 last season, underwent surgery Dec. 5 for a splintered bone in the big toe on his left foot. He played catch for 15 minutes yesterday but hasn't been allowed to run or pitch off a mound yet.

"I'm beginning to think my name is 'Take It Easy,' because that's all I hear from everybody: 'Take it easy.' "

The Angels already had two vacancies in the starting rotation, but now they'll try to fill three. Only Mark Langston and Jim Abbott will be counted upon.

Candidates for the open spots include Joe Grahe, Don Robinson, Scott Lewis, former Oriole Dave Johnson and perhaps Scott Bailes, Matt Keough or Cliff Young.

* BREWERS: New manager Phil Garner is confident about the first four starting pitchers in his rotation, but the fifth spot is up for grabs.

Garner said Bill Wegman, Chris Bosio, Jamie Novarro and Dan Plesac should hold down spots in the starting rotation. Plesac, the former reliever, was shifted to a starting role in the middle of last season.

The leading contenders for the fifth spot appear to be rookie right-handers Cal Eldred and Mark Kiefer and veteran left-hander Bruce Ruffin, obtained during the winter from Philadelphia.

* METS: The winter reports were true concerning pitcher Sid Fernandez and his weight loss.

The left-hander, who was limited to 44 innings and a 1-3 record in 1991 because of wrist and knee injuries, reported to the Duke University Clinic for weight loss this winter at 261 pounds. A month later, after an 800-calorie-a-day diet, Fernandez bounced out at 215.

"It's something I should have done a long time ago. It can't do anything but help me," Fernandez said. "Basically, what they told me is don't eat fats. It's that simple; you don't eat fats, you won't get fat."

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