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AROUND THE NL

PADRES: San Diego isn't likely to deal Hideki Irabu's rights to the Yankees or anybody else before today's deadline, imposed by his agent, and the right-hander is prepared to return to Japan and sit out the season. "We're leaving Wednesday," agent Don Nomura said from his Los Angeles office. Nomura said he and Irabu are booked on a noon All Nippon Airways flight to Tokyo.

Backup INF Craig Shipley injured his left hamstring while trying to break up a double play at second base in the first inning of an 8-5 victory over the Rockies. He will fly to San Diego for evaluation by team doctors today.

DODGERS: RHP Ramon Martinez will pitch Opening Day for the third straight season when the Phillies visit Dodger Stadium on April 1. Martinez went 15-6 with a 3.42 ERA last season, finishing with a seven-game winning streak.

OF Raul Mondesi, hitting .408, appears settled in at the No.

3 slot in the lineup. "He has that kind of talent," manager Bill Russell said. "He was very happy we moved him to the third spot. He knows it's an important position."

EXPOS: RHP Pedro Martinez's contract runs through the 1998 season. His plans already revolve around his brother and former Dodgers teammate, Ramon. "If the Dodgers sign Ramon, there's a good chance I'd sign with them," Martinez said. "If not, I'll probably go to Tampa or Miami."

GIANTS: 1B J.T. Snow, beaned in the eye by a Randy Johnson fastball last week, was examined by an ophthalmologist and cleared to resume workouts, though there's no word on when he'll be able to play, and Giants officials have said they doubt he'll be back for the season opener April 1. "I just feel fortunate to be sitting here on the brink of getting back to working out," Snow said.

The rotation is set: RHPs Mark Gardner, William VanLandingham and Osvaldo Fernandez and LHPs Shawn Estes and Kirk Rueter. RHPs Joe Roa, Dan Carlson and Keith Foulke, who have looked sharp in camp, must battle LHPs Doug Creek and Rich Rodriguez for the one job available in the bullpen. The other five relief spots are all but set, with closer Rod Beck, setup men Jim Poole and Julian Tavarez and middle relievers Doug Henry and Rich DeLucia.

METS: RHP Jason Isringhausen and LHP Bill Pulsipher will start the season in Triple-A, assistant GM Steve Phillips said. Both are coming off surgery. Pulsipher appeared in one spring game and allowed one hit in three innings. Isringhausen started one game, also pitching three innings; he gave up two hits and struck out two.

PIRATES: Rookie Jose Guillen, Most Valuable Player of the Carolina League last season while playing for Class A Lynchburg, continued his strong bid to become the starting rightfielder. He hit run-scoring singles in the first, sixth and seventh innings against the Cardinals, raising his spring average to .436 (17-for-39) with a homer and seven RBI in 13 games.

_ TIMES WIRES

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