Advertisement

Mota’s Skills Paying Off in Major-League Trial

TIMES STAFF WRITER

This one was for his son. And for his wife. And for Dennis Rasmussen.

Jose Mota’s biggest problem Thursday after the Padres’ 4-0 victory over Houston was making sure he didn’t leave anybody out as he attempted to share what has become one of the biggest accomplishments of his life: His seven-game success story in major league baseball.

Indeed, it was kind of like an Academy Award acceptance speech.

Mota, the latest Padre second baseman, collected his first RBIs of the season and dedicated them to his son, Joey, who celebrated his second birthday Thursday. Mota talked about how nice it has been since his wife, Maria, joined him from Glendora on Monday when the Padres returned from a trip.

Advertisement

“She’s been here every game (this week),” Mota said. “She told me she got pretty emotional the first night when she saw me stretching down the right-field line. She said she had tears in her eyes.

“It’s nice to have her and my son be a part of it.”

Mota stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth Thursday and broke open a 2-0 game. He took two strikes from Jimmy Jones, fouled off another pitch, and then drove a curveball into right-center field. Fred McGriff and Tom Lampkin scored, and soon Mota--the son of former Dodger Manny Mota--would be smiling and talking and shaking hands with Rasmussen, the winning pitcher.

“It means a lot to me,” said Mota, who scored the Padres’ first run in the third after walking. “Raz and I became pretty close when he was in Las Vegas (on a rehabilitation assignment). He’s a great man and a great pitcher. It was extra special because of that.

Advertisement

“He’s taken me under his wing. When I came here, he said, ‘Jose, I saw you play in Las Vegas. Don’t change. I was there with you for four weeks. Don’t think this game has to change when you come up here.’ ”

The Padres figured they would have a small guy at second base this season. They didn’t think it would be Jose Mota, who is 5-feet-9, 155 pounds.

But here they are, two months into the season, and Bip Roberts is in center field. And Marty Barrett has been in Las Vegas on a rehabilitation assignment. And Paul Faries is on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.

And here is Mota. He joined the team last Friday in Houston--after six years in the minors with five different organizations--and has started each of the past seven games. He is batting .304 and has made only one error. Thursday, he took a hard slide and forearm from Eric Yelding and still turned a game-ending double play.

If Mota continues on his current pace, the Padres will have a difficult decision to make by June 7, when Faries is due to come off of the disabled list.

“Fine,” said Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager. “I love those kinds of decisions, where talent is involved.”

Said Mota: “I’m working hard to stay here. Certain things, I have no control over. While I’m here, I’m going to enjoy myself.”

So far, so are the Padres.

Advertisement


Advertisement