The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Monday, March 27, 1995                 TAG: 9503270112
SECTION: SPORTS                   PAGE: C8   EDITION: FINAL 
DATELINE: PORT ST. LUCIE, FLA.               LENGTH: Medium:   77 lines


Shawn Abner wrecked his left knee about every way a knee can be wrecked two years ago. The first player selected in the 1984 draft by the New York Mets, Abner was playing basketball before a Triple-A game in New Orleans in 1993 when he landed wrong and the major ligaments, not to mention the cartilage, in his knee exploded.

Abner, then with the Kansas City Royals organization, had yet to live up to the expectations of a No. 1 pick, spending only three full seasons in the major leagues, and he isn't about to now, gimpy at 28. But after sitting out last season while on the mend, Abner is back with the Mets and in his last week of trying to earn a job with the Norfolk Tides, if not the Mets' replacement team.

``They haven't asked me to (be a replacement),'' said Abner, who has not played in spring training replacement games. ``I know they're starting to ask people, but they haven't asked me. If they would, I wouldn't know what to say. I'd have to talk to my wife and some of my close friends and see. I'm not going to go beg them, but if they ask me I'd have to think about it.''

Abner battled through the mental valleys of rehabilitation to get this far, and he knows he needs another knee operation at some point to replace his anterior cruciate ligament. His ACL replacement surgery, Abner said, ``didn't take.'' But at best Abner, traded by the Mets to the San Diego Padres in 1986, is the Tides' fifth outfielder as their roster now stands.

He knows he can hit and, though he wears a brace, he can get around well enough in the outfield, even making a sliding catch Sunday. Yet opportunity with the Tides might be scarce. And if he is in fact jobless next week, Abner said he's not sure where he'd turn next.

``I don't know, that's a hard question,'' he said. ``I need another operation at the end of the year, my wife's pregnant, she's due July 1. ... I just don't know. There's other teams I was talking to before (the Mets). I never really worry about stuff like that. It's happened before, it'll happen again.''

PULSIPHER TAGGED: Lefthander Bill Pulsipher, considered one of the best prospects in baseball, was torched for nine hits and six runs in four innings Sunday in the Tides' 7-2 loss to the Charlotte Knights, now affiliated with the Florida Marlins. He struck out seven.

The loss put the Tides' spring record at 4-3-2 with three exhibition games left.

IS IT OVER YET? The Tides have been in camp since mid-February, about three weeks longer than usual, and many are fighting more than the normal lethargy from the same drills done over and over.

``Man, I can't tell you,'' said outfielder Derek Lee, who called the two off days the Tides have had ``very needed and very appreciated.''

Unfortunately, their departure dates have been pushed back one day. Because of uncertainty over the major league replacement roster, which is not expected to be announced until Saturday or Sunday, minor league rosters also will not be set until then.

Now, the last Tides won't leave Florida until April 4, two days before they open the season in Charlotte.

NOTEWORTHY: Minor league director Steve Phillips said that, whenever a labor settlement happens, it would take three weeks of spring training for the minor leaguers on the 40-man roster to join their teams. ... Of the nine six-year free agents in camp, only one, pitcher Jimmy Williams, has played in spring training replacement games. Williams pitched four innings of one game. prospects. Two are expected to start with the Tides - Pulsipher, rated 12th, and shortstop Rey Ordonez, rated 20th. ILLUSTRATION: Photos by MARTIN SMITH-RODDEN


Shawn Abner is trying to earn a baseball job with the Norfolk Tides,

if not the New York Mets' replacement team.

Shawn Abner was the first player taken in the 1984 draft by the


by CNB