The bad news for the St. Louis Cardinals didn't wait until opening day. Left-hander Joe Magrane found out Friday that he needs elbow surgery and will miss the entire season.

"His elbow got stuck," Cardinals physician Dr. Stan London said. "We ran through the examination and found pieces. On further examination, we found looseness. Just to have the chips removed wouldn't do it. He has to have the ligaments repaired."Magrane, a 26-year-old left-hander who will make $1,025,000 this season, will be operated on by Dr. Stan Jobe, who also works with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ken Dayley, John Tudor, Danny Cox, Greg Matthews and Todd Worrell all went through similar operations in recent years. Worrell is the only one still with the Cardinals.

"It's not good news, either from the personal standpoint of Joe Magrane or the ballclub," Cardinals general manager Dal Maxvill said. "I guess when we started doing tests, it planted a little bug in my head. We'll just hope for the best."

While Magrane's injury dominated on-the-field news, boardroom battles continued at Mesa, Ariz. The Chicago Cubs made what they described as their "final" offer on a contract extension for Ryne Sandberg, but the second baseman's agent rejected it.

Sandberg, who had set a Friday deadline, wants a five-year deal worth $24 million. The team is offering at least $6 million less. He is already signed for this season at $2.2 million and the Cubs have an option for 1992 at $2.1 million.

"We made one final proposal, which we are really reaching to do, and it would ensure that Ryne Sandberg would finish his career as a Cub," team president Don Grenesko said. "It doesn't meet what they've requested, so I guess they're not pleased with it."

Back on the field, Atlanta first baseman Nick Esasky took batting practice against coach Ned Yost.

Esasky, who missed most of last season because of vertigo, swung at 38 pitches, hit several line drives, fouled off only three pitches and didn't miss any.

Two days earlier, in his first appearance against live pitching, Esasky managed to hit only about a half-dozen fair balls in about 50 swings.