Padre Notebook : Disgruntled Jefferson Impressing Few With Performance in Las Vegas
As bad as things have been with the Padres, it hasn’t kept their eyes from wandering to an even stranger, sadder situation in Nevada.
All may be right with their first-place triple-A Las Vegas Stars--but all is not right with the team’s center fielder.
Remember Stanley Jefferson? The Padres’ opening-day center fielder, who was sent down April 19, vowed to regain his swing and spark. But 10 days later, when the Padres recalled outfielder Randell Byers, Jefferson took it as a slight. He has been pouting ever since.
He has been reduced to such things as striking out three times in one game, dropping two fly balls in another. On Thursday night, he lost a fly ball in the lights, looked toward the dugout and threw up his arms. Later, he overthrew a cutoff man.
Jefferson gave a typical performance in a game last week against a Pacific Coast League opponent, the Edmonton Trappers. After he hit his first home run of the season, he practically walked around the bases. The slow trot so infuriated the Trappers that his next time up, he was hit by reliever Urbano Lugo, then cursed by several Trappers. Jefferson’s teammates just shook their heads.
Said Edmonton’s Kevin King: “Taking five minutes to get around the bases is unreal. The man got hit for a reason.”
Although neither Jefferson nor his teammates will comment on the situation, Padre coach Sandy Alomar, who is close to many of the team’s minor leaguers, wondered this:
“Don’t guys realize that no matter how mad they get at their organizations, there are scouts from other clubs in the stands for every minor league game? If they don’t want to play for us, at least play to show other people you are available. A guy who goes down and pouts, it works against him in all ways. And it makes it that much harder to get back.”
After all, would you recall a man with these stats: .260 average, nine strikeouts and just six walks in 60 at-bats. Jefferson also has four errors, just one fewer than the team’s shortstop, Mike Brumley.
Such Sweet Memories: The Padres’ recent hitting slump--they have scored fewer runs than the Baltimore Orioles (71-79)--might bring to mind the question: What’s the most runs the Padres have scored in a game?
Dave Campbell, a Padre radio and television announcer, remembers the game well: a 17-16 loss to San Francisco in 15 innings, May 23, 1970.
Why does Campbell remember? As the Padres’ second baseman that day, he went 0 for 10.
“Plus a walk,” he said. “Don’t forget that walk.”
Campbell felt the most remorse for his parents. “They were back in Michigan, saw the score on television that night and thought their son must have had a heck of a day.”
Campbell thought he would make amends with his family last season when he was tabbed to broadcast a half-inning of one of CBS Radio’s national games of the week involving the Padres. He called home and convinced everyone to gather around the radio.
“And it was a four-pitch half-inning,” Campbell remembered. “Pop out, base hit, and then on a 1-and-0 count, the next guy grounded into a double play. My national debut lasted about a minute.”
How-Was-That-Again Dept: The Padres’ Las Vegas franchise held its pregame Cinco de Mayo celebration on Friday, May 6.
Nobody complained, perhaps because for the past three years, because of scheduling problems, they have shot off their Fourth of July fireworks on July 3.
Rod Serling Memorial Stat of the Week: In the Chicago Cubs’ three-game series with the Padres last week, Andre Dawson hit his seventh, eighth and ninth homers. Incredibly, Dawson did the same thing to the Padres last season-- exactly the same thing. And on almost exactly the same days.
In 1987, on May 1-3 in Chicago, he hit Nos. 7, 8 and 9 against Padre pitching. This year, the days were May 2-4. Carrying the coincidence further, last year he hit No. 8 against Ed Whitson, and he hit No. 8 against Whitson Tuesday night in San Diego.
Ejection of the Week: John Kruk was thrown out of Wednesday night’s 6-4 loss to the Cubs for arguing on a strikeout. A somewhat common thing for a player to do, except Kruk had struck out swinging.
“The ump said it wasn’t that pitch, it was an accumulation of things,” Manager Larry Bowa explained after home plate umpire Gerry Davis ejected Kruk. “He said Johnny had been getting on him the whole game.”
That’s a relief.
Player of the Week: Infielder Tim Flannery, who went on the disabled list with a strained ankle ligament April 29. In the Padres’ ensuing six games, encompassing all of last week, the Padres lost six times. This is a game in which timing is everything.
Serious Player of the Week: Lance McCullers had lost his stopper role and appeared to be losing his confidence when, like one of his fastballs, it all came dancing back.
In 8 innings this week, McCullers has allowed just one earned run with eight strikeouts. His ERA has dropped from 5.11 to 3.48.
It was capped Friday night in Pittsburgh, when he got himself into an eighth-inning bases-loaded, one-out jam . . . and worked his way out with five pitches. He retired Sid Bream on a foul out and struck out Darnell Coles.
In his past seven appearances, covering 12 innings, he has allowed just one run while striking out 11.
“He’s finally getting an idea,” pitching coach Pat Dobson said, referring to pitching mechanics and selection.
Part of that idea also involves the realization that he is not longer king of the bullpen hill, a job now owned by Mark Davis.
“Davis has moved into that role,” Bowa said.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” McCullers said, “but I’ve got to keep doing my job. I know I’ve been streaky, but hopefully I can get hot and stay hot.”
Nice Election: On Monday afternoon, the Padres announced the results of the media voting for Padre player and pitcher of the month for April. The winners were John Kruk and Mark Davis. Kruk was voted in on the basis of his two game-winning homers, Davis because of a 1-0 record with an 0.92 ERA and 18-inning scoreless streak.
Within four days, Kruk had been sidelined with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder and Davis had given up a three-run, 12th inning homer in a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh.