Boros Is Finding Room for a Hot Marvell Wynne
On one of the walls in the Padre clubhouse there’s a board with room for nine name plates. Each day, Manager Steve Boros uses this board to insert the names of the nine starters.
On Sunday, the list started with, ROBERTS, GWYNN . . . and so on. Everything was going along as expected until the No. 5 position. There, the nameplate said WYNNE. That was unexpected.
The white letters on the wood-grained plastic strip were still white. The letters on players such as, say, Terry Kennedy’s nameplate are yellowing a bit.
But Marvell Wynne hasn’t been a Padre for long. This, in fact, is his first season. He came over from Pittsburgh at the beginning of the year to play some defense in the late innings and do some pinch-running. He didn’t figure to have his name on Boros’ nameplate board very often.
Lately, however, his name has been up there. And what was most surprising Sunday was that his name was listed in the No. 5 position. That’s normally a spot reserved for the McREYNOLDS or GARVEY or NETTLES nameplate. Wynne, a speedy runner who has just 11 career home runs, is normally at or near the top of the lineup.
“I just couldn’t find a No. 5 hitter (Sunday),” Boros said. “Marvell’s been swinging a hot bat lately so I thought I’d put him in there and see what happened.”
Said Wynne: “I’ve never batted fifth before in my life. When you’re in that spot you have to try and drive in some runs.”
In Sunday’s 4-1 victory over Atlanta, Wynne did not drive in any runs--Mark Thurmond took care of that--but he did play well. Wynne had a base hit to ignite the Padres’ first rally in the second inning and stole a base. Wynne is now hitting .300 (21 for 70) to rank second on the team behind Tony Gwynn.
He’s also been doing well in the areas the Padres hoped he would. He’s playing well in the field and he has six stolen bases.
“He’s playing the way the real Marvell Wynne should play,” said Atlanta manager Chuck Tanner, who managed Wynne in Pittsburgh the last 2 1/2 seasons. “San Diego made a good acquisition in getting him. He’s a good, solid player who can run, hit and steal a base for you.”
Boros is starting to realize these qualities more and more. And the more he thinks about them, the more of a problem it creates. With Wynne playing so well, Boros said he has to keep finding a place for him to play. When Wynne plays, someone else has to sit.
“Marvell has forced me to think of ways to get him in the lineup,” Boros said. “There are a lot of pluses for us when he’s in there.”
Much of the time, Boros has used Wynne against right-handed pitchers in favor of Carmelo Martinez. That was case Sunday with Wynne playing center and Kevin McReynolds moving to left.
Will this continue?
“I can’t say that I’m definitely going to platoon Marvell and Carmelo,” Boros said. “In the past week or so I’ve given Kevin the day off or I’ll give Steve (Garvey) the day off. You have to see how things go. Right now, like I said, Marvell is doing an excellent job.”
Last year, Wynne struggled with the Pirates. He played in only 107 games, starting 85 of them. He started only four games in the last two months of the season. One of the reasons: Injuries. The other reason: A .205 season batting average.
“He was hurting much of the time,” Tanner said.
This year, things are going better.
“When I came over here, I knew my role,” Wynne said. “I knew I’d come in and pinch-run and go in for defensive purposes. My goal was to help the team in those areas.”
Now, he’s helping the Padres in a lot more areas. Earlier this season, in a game against Cincinnati, Wynne hit two home runs (his only two of the year) to help the Padres to a 7-6 victory over the Reds.
In his last three starts, all this weekend against Atlanta, Wynne went 6 for 14 with a double, a stolen base and three RBIs, one a game-winner in the 11th inning Friday night.
“I’m swinging the bat well,” Wynne said. “Of course, it’s only been the last three games, so we’ll have to see how it goes.”
Starting today, the Padres face division-leading Houston in a three-game series. The Astros will throw left-handers Jim DeShaies, Bob Knepper and Mike Madden. So, Wynne may not get to play.
“I’ll probably be used late in the game or something,” Wynne said. “Whatever I can do to help the team.”
Lately, that’s meant being listed among the others on the nameplate board.