On Monday morning, Tim Flannery blacked out at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Two days later, after a series of doctor visits and tests, the feisty Padre infielder lashed out at the Atlanta Braves. He had three hits and a walk, two RBIs and a run scored in the Padres’ 9-4 victory at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the last-place Padres, who scored six runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie.
That eighth-inning rally--during which Flannery had a key RBI bunt single--must have been quite a relief for Flannery’s recurring headaches.
“This type of game will do wonders for relieving stress,” said Padre Manager Steve Boros. “If anybody had concern about his health, he showed that Tim Flannery is back and ready to operate. . . . Coming out to play like this says a lot for Tim. And this game says a lot for his piece of mind.”
Surfer Tim has become stressed-out Tim.
Flannery, the golden boy surfer who comes across as a laid-back Southern Californian, has had a very stressful and scary week.
“It started out the last couple of days in New York,” Flannery said. “I was exhausted and wiped out. Then, on Monday morning, I was walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, trying to get away from the game, when I blacked out.
“It scared me to death. I’ve had some things in my family. My brother had Hodgkin’s disease and underwent chemotherapy. He beat it. But anytime something like this happens, you fear the worst.”
Flannery took a cab from Fisherman’s Wharf to Candlestick Park, where he immediately went to the trainer’s room. Hours later, he was on his way back to San Diego to be examined by a doctor.
After undergoing two days of examinations and tests which included a brain scan, doctors at Scripps Memorial Hospital said the headaches were caused by stress.
“It’s (his head) still hurting,” said Flannery before Wednesday night’s game, “but it’s just stress. My body is tight and that is showing up in the chest and head.
“The doctors said it’s something I’ll have to deal with. I will try to leave the game here (in the ballpark). I didn’t have those headaches in 1984. But picking up the paper and seeing that we’re in last place bothered me. It bothers everybody, but I’m just a little more sensitive to it. It’s bothered me for three weeks. I usually live with it. If I didn’t have the problem at the wharf, I’d probably still be living with it.”
Once he was cleared by the doctors, Flannery was returned to the starting lineup Wednesday because the Padres were facing right-hander Doyle Alexander.
“He’s fine now,” Boros said. “It’s something that can be a valuable lesson for Tim. He has to learn to deal with his frustrations and stress better. I look for him to be as productive as he has been.”
Flannery was the first one out for batting practice early Wednesday afternoon. Walking gingerly, Flannery stopped, looked around, and said: “I have to relax. If I punch out with the bases loaded, I’ll skip back to the dugout.”
Then came the game between the fifth- and sixth-place teams in the National League West. Despite playing a relatively meaningless game in front of only 7,338 fans, Flannery was his usual intense self.
In his customary style, Flannery was diving for ground balls, sliding into bases, dragging a bunt and racing to first base on a walk.
Flannery received help from his teammates:
-- John Kruk went 4 for 5 with three RBIs to collect his first four-hit game. In the first inning, Kruk blasted a 3-2 pitch from Alexander over the left-field wall for his fourth home run of the season.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Kruk was 7 for 43. Kruk took 10 extra minutes of batting practice before the game. At one point, he broke a bat in frustration.
-- Garry Templeton went 3 for 4 with three runs scored. However, he strained his right hamstring when he scored in the eighth inning and is listed as day-to-day.
-- Lance McCullers came on in relief in the eighth with one out, the score tied 3-3 and Rafael Ramirez on first. He gave up an infield single to Ozzie Virgil on a ball that Graig Nettles threw past second base, allowing Ramirez to go to third. With runners at first and third, McCullers retired Andres Thomas on a foul pop to first and got pinch-hitter Ted Simmons on a bouncer to second.
“Getting us out of that inning was the key,” Boros said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win the ballgame.”
In the eighth, the Padres went against Atlanta’s ace reliever Gene Garber, who entered the game with a 5-3 record, 22 saves and a 1.75 ERA.
Garber gave up all six runs on a series of seeing-eye hits and bunts by the Padres. Even McCullers got a two-run double on a ball that bounced over first base.
“Garber has been tough on us all year,” Boros said. “We were hoping for one run. Some balls slipped through some holes for us. We caught some breaks.”