Thanks to Carmelo Martinez, the people-watchers in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium Thursday evening were able to forget about the score and concentrate on the faces by the end of the first inning of the Padres’ sixth annual exhibition game with San Diego State University.
Martinez hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first, and the Padres went on to defeat the Aztecs, 5-0, before a crowd estimated at 30,000, giving the fans the chance to watch:
--Bruce Hurst and Jack Clark working in their new office for the first time in brown and orange.
--Hurst breeze through five innings, killing off any doubts about his stiff shoulder.
--Kasey McKeon, who had presented the lineup card at home plate along with his father, Padre Manager Jack McKeon, bat against brother-in-law Greg Booker--and get a hit.
There were other names in the news on a warm spring evening. After the game, the Padres announced they had optioned first baseman Rob Nelson and pitcher Pat Clements to Las Vegas (triple-A), which just about guarantees infielders Bip Roberts and Gary Green locker space in the Padre clubhouse for Monday’s opening night.
It is expected that pitcher Eric Nolte and outfielder Shane Mack will be put on the disabled list, which would pare the roster to the limit of 24.
About those home debuts. Hurst allowed two hits and struck out three in five innings, setting down 10 in a row before he called it a night.
“I felt pretty good,” said Hurst one day after having his left shoulder checked by a doctor at Scripps Clinic. “I got some medicine, which will hopefully clear out the inflammation. It’s a part of pitching. It happens when you pitch a lot of innings over your career.”
Said Jack McKeon: “He pitched great for a guy who was almost put on the disabled list by a couple of television stations last night. I told him to only go five innings--I didn’t want the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Humans after me.”
Clark’s first at-bat in his new home produced a first-inning single to left on a two-and-two count off SDSU pitcher Rick Navarro.
“I didn’t want to be the first guy to strike out against the college guys,” Clark said. “I was getting real close.”
Clark only played one inning, leaving after taking a wild throw to first off his right knee. He said he was going to leave early anyway because of a strained groin. Neither injury is said to be serious.
The most interesting confrontation of the evening, though, came in the sixth, when Kasey McKeon stepped in to face Booker. On a one-and-one count, Booker threw a change-up, which McKeon struck hit weakly into center field.
“He thought it was a fastball,” Booker said. “I said, ‘If I don’t throw any harder than that, I am having a bad spring.”’
Padre infielder Gary Green was sitting alone in the dugout an hour before the game. It was Green’s first time in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium since the end of the 1986 season, when he played in 13 games for the Padres during the last month. “It’s a little bit weird,” Green said. “But sometimes that’s the way things go.” The Padres leave for Las Vegas this morning for their final two exhibition games. “It will be good to be going back to Las Vegas with these guys,” Green said. “Hopefully I’ll leave with them Saturday after the game.” A few hours later, Green found out that he had survived the cut.