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Rickey signs, swings with Padres

Published Sep. 9, 2005

Rickey Henderson and the Padres agreed on a one-year deal Monday that will pay him $250,000 if he makes the club.

Henderson, the career steals leader who is closing in on other marks, spent about three hours at the complex, but not before getting lost on his way to Peoria, where he went through spring training with the Padres in 1996 and '97.

"They done built new freeways," he said. "I had to flag a guy down on the highway and ask him, "Am I going the right way?' "

Henderson took about 100 swings in the batting cage and ran some sprints in the outfield.

He hadn't taken batting practice off a machine in 2{ weeks, he said, but he has been taking 300 swings a day off a tee with the ball on a string.

"I've always thought spring training was too long as it is. I just need enough to get my timing down," he said.

Henderson is closing in on two major records. He is three walks short of breaking Babe Ruth's career record of 2,062 and needs to score 68 runs to top Ty Cobb's 2,245. He also is 86 hits shy of 3,000.

Henderson was ignored all spring before the Padres, one of his many former teams, offered him a minor-league deal.

Henderson, 42, will have to play his way onto the team. If he does, he'll make $50,000 more than major-league minimum. The contract doesn't include incentives for playing time, just the standard package for things such as making the All-Star team or winning a Gold Glove, Towers said.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he envisions Henderson as a backup outfielder or pinch-hitter, but he is not ruling out a starting spot for the man considered the greatest leadoff hitter in history.

"He's a winning player. He's the type of guy that will help the other players," Bochy said.

MARLINS STADIUM: For the second straight year, a proposed ballpark in Miami might not find a lot of support at the state Capitol.

Senate President John McKay says the issue should be handled locally. Gov. Jeb Bush killed a plan for public financing last year, and House Speaker Tom Feeney is already distracted by a busy legislative agenda.

"It's getting a little late to start with," Feeney said. "I really haven't taken a position, I haven't been briefed."

Miami-Dade's large legislative delegation is split on trying to get public financing for the proposed $385-million, 40,000-seat ballpark in a difficult budget year when Republican legislative leaders already are talking about scrapping Bush's tax cut proposals.

D'BACKS: Third baseman Matt Williams missed his third straight game with a left heel strain and first baseman Mark Grace missed his second with a muscle strain in his back. Both are expected to play Wednesday.

DODGERS: Shawn Green went through his first full workout since spraining his right thumb in the exhibition opener. The 28-year-old rightfielder was injured sliding into second March 2. Green should be ready to start the season, team spokesman John Olguin said.

METS: Left-hander Bobby Jones has tendinitis in his throwing shoulder and won't be able to throw for two weeks. An MRI showed no structural damage. Left-handed reliever Tom Martin has a bone bruise on his left knee and will be sidelined 7-10 days. Right-hander Rick Croushore, out all spring with a right shoulder injury, threw for the first time.

PIRATES: Kris Benson, expected to be the team's top starter, returned after missing nine days with a sore elbow to pitch four innings in a minor-league game. Benson hadn't pitched since March 10 against Minnesota, when he felt a twinge in his elbow after moving from a high bullpen mound to a much lower mound on the field. Benson said he is on schedule to pitch the opener April 3 or the next day in Cincinnati, and he doesn't feel the soreness will affect his sharpness or arm strength.

REDS: Right-hander Seth Etherton, hampered by a sore right shoulder, is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery today in Cincinnati. Dr. Timothy Kremcheck plans to remove a bone spur and repair a torn labrum.