Five days ago, Chris James was standing in the visitors' dugout at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium still teary-eyed over the retirement announcement of his teammate and friend, Mike Schmidt.
As he talked about replacing Schmidt, a certain Hall of Famer, as the Philadelphia Phillies' third baseman, he talked of new era.
The era didn't last the week.
James was traded to the Padres Friday night in exchange for outfielder/first baseman John Kruk and utility infielder Randy Ready.
James is expected to be in uniform for today's second game of three-game series with the Reds. The Padres also announced that infielder Gary Green, who opened the season with the Padres, will be recalled from triple-A Las Vegas.
McKeon said he hoped James might be able to provide some needed right-handed power. Although he has only two home runs and 19 RBIs this season, James has hit 37 home runs and driven in 125 runs in a little more than two previous seasons.
James, 26, was informed of the deal following a 2-1, 13-inning loss to Montreal in Philadelphia. James was zero for five in the game to stretch his hitless streak to 31 at-bats and drop his average to .207.
His last at-bat was a popout to third on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the 12th. He was rewarded with a chorus of boos.
"That is the type of game it is," James told reporters in Philadelphia. "Your best friend retires; you go through the worst month of your life, and now I'm traded."
James, the younger brother of New England Patriot running back Craig James, was in tears after the game.
"I'm very sad right now," James said. "You hate to leave your roots, and this is my roots--where I came up. I've got a lot of good friends here."
But Phillies General Manager Lee Thomas said the change might be the best in the long run for James.
"It was a tough decision to trade Chris," Thomas told reporters in Philadelphia. "But playing under the shadow of Mike Schmidt might have had something to do with it. A change of scenery could help Chris James."
James could step in and challenge for the starting third base spot that has been shared by Tim Flannery, Luis Salazar and Ready.
But McKeon said he is not sure if he will play James at third or in left. James has made three errors while playing seven games for the Phillies at third, 37 in the outfield.
Kruk and Ready were informed of the trade after the game with the Reds.
"I'm shocked," Ready said. "I was combing my hair and (pitching coach Pat Dobson) said Jack wanted to talk to us in his office."
Both Kruk and Ready have struggled this spring.
Kruk, 28, is off to the worst start of his career, batting .184 with three home runs and six runs batted in. He recently has become the odd-man out in a left and right field mix of Bip Roberts, Carmelo Martinez and Marvell Wynne.
Ready, 29, also has had his problems. He went through spring training as the likely starting third baseman, but Tim Flannery started opening day, and the late spring acquisition of Salazar made him expendable.
Ready, who is batting .254, had not played May 20 because of hamstring pull until he grounded out Friday as a ninth-inning pinch hitter.
Kruk and Ready will be united in Philadelphia with former Padre Manager Larry Bowa, the Phillies' third base coach. Kruk and Ready enjoyed their best seasons in the majors under Bowa in 1987: Kruk batted .313 with 20 home runs and 91 RBIs, and Ready hit .309 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Kruk said he will miss the Padres and was disappointed about leaving a contending team for the Phillies, loser of nine in a row.
THE NUMBERS ON CHRIS JAMES
Team, Year AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG Bend (A), 1982 227 47 72 19 3 12 50 .317 Spartanburg (A), 1983 499 94 148 23 4 26 121 .297 Reading (AA), 1984 457 66 117 19 12 8 57 .256 Portland (AAA), 1985 507 78 160 35 8 11 73 .316 Portland (AAA), 1986 266 30 64 6 2 12 41 .241 Philadelphia, 1986 46 5 13 3 0 1 5 .283 Philadelphia, 1987 358 48 105 20 6 17 54 .293 Maine (AAA), 1987 40 5 9 2 1 0 3 .225 Philadelphia, 1988 566 57 137 24 1 19 66 .242 Philadelphia, 1989 179 14 37 4 0 2 19 .207