Besides the emergency angioplasty Doug Brocail needed on March 11, the Padres had gone through the bulk of the exhibition season with nary a scratch. And Brocail's recovery was so strong that the Padres were talking in terms of the right-hander rejoining the bullpen by mid-May.
In less than a week, that euphoria has turned to gloom.
First baseman Ryan Klesko is awaiting Monday surgery on the AC joint in his left shoulder and will miss at least two months. It's possible that he might not be at full strength by the time his contract expires at the end of the 2006 season.
Center fielder Mike Cameron, who bounced strongly back from the facial surgery that ended his 2005 season last August, will miss at least the first three weeks of the season with a left oblique muscle that he strained while taking batting practice before the penultimate game of the exhibition season.
And now No. 2 starter Shawn Estes will likely miss four to six weeks of the season with a strained flexor tendon in his left elbow.
Klesko and Cameron started the season on the disabled list. But Klesko was preparing to head to Arizona for conditioning when an MRI on his left shoulder turned up more damage than expected.
As for Estes, he said he felt "strong" when he started Wednesday night's game against the Giants, but he began feeling pain in his elbow early -- then felt it even more on two throws in San Francisco's three-run sixth. One was a pitch, the second an awkward throw to first.
With Omar Vizquel aboard on with a leadoff single, Estes threw a fastball out of a slide-step delivery to Ray Durham.
"That's when I first really felt it," Estes said of the pain in his elbow. Two hitters later, Moises Alou chopped the ball between third and the mound. Estes fielded the ball with the intent to throw home. But when he couldn't get a grip on the ball, he threw awkwardly to first.
"I opened up my body to make that throw and probably exposed my elbow a little more," said Estes. "That is when the pain didn't go away."
Padres manager Bruce Bochy said he was "disappointed but encouraged" about the news surrounding Estes: "I'm encouraged that we'll get him back sooner than later."
Said Estes: "The good sign was that my last pitch was 92 (mph). I knew I wasn't dealing with a torn ligament. When guys tear ligaments, they don't feel any pain, but they can't throw the ball. I had pain, but I could throw the ball."
"For whatever reason, he didn't say anything until after he came in (after the sixth inning)," Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson said of Estes. "He just thought, 'I'll be able to get through this inning.' "
REPLAY: The Padres held a 4-3 lead on Colorado Friday night as manager Bruce Bochy turned the ball over to his normally dependable bullpen. But the Rockies scored six runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings against San Diego's relief corps to post a 10-4 win. The Rockies went 9-for-20 against the Padres' relievers.