The first-place San Diego Padres have played through stretches when star players Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti and Rickey Henderson sat out due to injuries.
But none missed the 6-8 weeks that smooth-fielding first baseman Wally Joyner will because of a fractured left thumb."It's not good," said Caminiti, who recently missed 15 of 17 starts with a groin injury. "He's a key part of our lineup, a key part of our defense."
The left-handed Joyner, hitting .321 with five homers and 33 RBIs, broke the bone at the base of his thumb while sliding into second base in the fourth inning of Sunday's loss at Philadelphia. His thumb was placed in a cast then, and he was examined Monday at Scripps Medical Clinic by team doctor Jan Fronek and hand specialist Dr. Merlin Hamer.
Results of an MRI showed no ligament damage.
Fronek said Joyner will be in a cast for four weeks, and will then require 2-4 weeks of rehabilitation. Once Joyner's back, he'll still have some stiffness, Fronek said.
"There's still a fair amount of work. That area is a little more sensitive," Fronek said.
Joyner, adept at scooping throws out of the dirt, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Padres recalled left-handed reliever Ron Villone from Triple-A Las Vegas.
"He's as smooth as they come," Caminiti said of Joyner. "It almost looks like he expects a bad hop, and he's ready for it every time. I hope we can get by. We've got guys who can fill his spot, but they're not Wally Joyner."
Said pitcher Bob Tewksbury: "I'm sad because of what he does for us as a team. Individually, I'm just really sad for him because he's having a lot of fun. He's in a new league and he's playing well. Every day, he's happy."