San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman has decided to take more time for rehabilitation instead of having more surgery.

Hoffman conferred with sports surgeon Lewis Yocum on Friday and had his physical with Padres team doctor Jan Fronek yesterday.

The right-hander said increased strength in his pitching shoulder in recent days convinced him to give his recovery more time rather than having surgery.

"Based off the progress I've had lately, I'm pretty optimistic," Hoffman said. "We'll see how the next couple weeks go."

Hoffman has not been able to throw since Oct. 16, after surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear and fraying of his labrum. Pain has persisted, possibly because of arthritic degeneration at the end of his clavicle.

Hoffman, 35, had postseason shoulder surgery in 1995 but was never on the disabled list in 10 big league seasons.

* RED SOX: Boston finally acquired 1B-OF Kevin Millar from the Florida Marlins -- by way of Japan.

The drawn-out process reached an abrupt conclusion when the Chunichi Dragons released him Friday and the Marlins sent him to the Red Sox yesterday for an undisclosed amount of money. The deal ended more than a month of negotiations and disputes.

Millar, 31, hit .306 last season with 16 homers and 57 RBI for Florida. In 2001, he hit .314 with 20 homers and 85 RBI.

"We think he's one of the better unknown hitters in baseball," Boston GM Theo Epstein said.

Millar agreed in early January to a two-year, $6.2 million contract with the Dragons, who paid the Marlins $1.2 million. To complete the deal, Florida first had to put Millar on waivers.

Then the Red Sox stepped in, claiming him on Jan. 14.

* YANKEES: LHP David Wells missed yesterday's workout in Tampa with flu-like symptoms.

Wells, 19-7 with a 3.75 ERA in 31 starts last season for New York, had been scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound for the second time.

Reliever Steve Karsay had his first full bullpen session since back surgery last November and said "it went well." He expects to be ready for Opening Day on March 31.

* REDS: Cincinnati voided its minor league contract with OF Greg "Toe" Nash, ending his attempt to get back into baseball after serving prison time.

Nash, 21, was recently arrested after getting into a fight in Donaldsonville, La., and is being charged with probation violation and second-degree battery.

The Reds decided to give the oft-troubled Nash a chance, but included a clause in his contract stipulating that he had to stay out of trouble with the law.

Cincinnati also voided the minor league contract of LHP Jose Rosado, who is trying to come back from two shoulder operations.