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Pitcher attending to personal problem

PEORIA, Ariz. -- San Diego Padres reliever Rod Beck will be out indefinitely while he deals with personal problems and probably won't be ready by opening day.

Beck hasn't been in camp for several days and hasn't pitched in
a spring training game. The last time anyone with the team heard
from him was Wednesday, when manager Bruce Bochy spoke with him by
phone.

"He said that he really needed to take care of some personal
issues and if he could possibly do it, he'd try to get back on
schedule as soon as he can," Bochy said Monday. "Now, it's going
to take a little bit longer than he or us had anticipated."

General manager Kevin Towers said he couldn't discuss Beck's
problems other than to say it "possibly" was health-related.
Beck's wife, Stacey, answered the phone at their Phoenix-area home
on Monday and said her husband wasn't in. She refused further
comment.

"I'm not 100 percent sure what all the issues are," Towers
said. "I'm just somewhat aware of what's going on. It puts us in a
tough spot because we want to be as candid as possible, but with
respect to things that are going on, I want to be as confidential
as I can with the information that I have."

The easygoing Beck, popular with teammates and fans, converted
all 20 save chances last year after being signed as a free agent in
June to solidify a struggling bullpen that was missing All-Star
closer Trevor Hoffman.

Hoffman returned in September, and Beck, who has 286 career
saves, re-signed in December to serve as a setup man.

The Padres have several options after Towers strengthened the
bullpen in the offseason, but he said it wouldn't be as good
without the 35-year-old Beck. Other additions were Antonio Osuna
and Akinori Otsuka, who had a successful career in Japan. Holdovers
include Jay Witasick and Scott Linebrink.

"We wanted that to be the strength of our club," Towers said.
"Sitting here today knowing that it's probably doubtful that he'll
start the season with us, it's probably not as good, based on what
he did for us last year.

"I'm still hopeful and optimistic that if he's not here to
start the season, he'll be back shortly," Towers said.

Beck re-signed for $1.75 million, with a chance for another $1
million in incentives, a nice raise from the $400,000 he made last
year.

He said at the beginning of spring training that he was
comfortable serving as a setup man for Hoffman, who's fifth on the
career list with 352 saves.

"I'd like to be the closer, but I didn't earn that," Beck said
in February. "This is San Diego. This is Trevor time. Ultimately,
I want to win the World Series, and we're better off with Trevor
doing what he does, and I think we're better off with me doing what
I do. If everybody stays healthy, we've got a good shot at winning
this division and going somewhere."

Beck, one of baseball's dominant closers in the mid-1990s,
missed the 2002 season while recovering from reconstructive elbow
surgery. He started the 2003 season at Triple-A Iowa.

While in Des Moines, Beck lived in his Winnebago parked just
beyond the outfield fence. Fans would drop by for autographs and
stay for a beer, and Beck became a folk hero.

The Padres signed him on June 2.