Cobbling together a competitive team and nursing the stadium project are just two of San Diego's off-season concerns. By Towers's count 12 pitchers in the San Diego system had surgery this year; the G.M. has called an organizational meeting this week so the front office, scouting, coaching and medical staffs can assess everyone's health and decide whom to keep on the 40-man roster. There's also the Tony Gwynn dilemma. The 40-year-old Gwynn, who played in only 36 games this year before undergoing what turned out to be season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late June, has a $6 million option for 2001 that the Padres are all but obligated to pick up to avoid a p.r. disaster. However, as Towers says, "Do you want to pay a part-time player $6 million?"
Farewell at Last
Sept. 29-Oct. 1: Cubs at Pirates Chicago and Pittsburgh could celebrate the final series ever at 30-year-old Three Rivers Stadium in fitting fashion: by fighting to stay out of last place. Either the Cubs or the Pirates have brought up the rear in all seven seasons that the National League Central has existed; through Sunday, Chicago occupied the cellar, 2� games behind fifth-place Pittsburgh, which will move into a new stadium, PNC Park, next season. On Friday the Bucs will pay tribute to Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, a member of two Pirates World Series-winning clubs (1971 and '79) who hit more homers (147) at Three Rivers than any other player. Then they will spend three games trying to keep major league leader Sammy Sosa (50 dingers)—seeking his first home run crown—from leaving the yard.