PADRES UPDATE : NOTEBOOK : Media Pressure Keeping Hitters, DiMaggio Apart, Gwynn Says
Although the Padres’ Tony Gwynn would like to make a run someday at Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-game hitting streak, he predicts that the media pressure in today’s game likely will prevent anyone from duplicating the feat.
“I just don’t know if it could be done, not with all the attention that comes with it,” Gwynn said on the 50th anniversary of the end of DiMaggio’s streak. “Maybe if nobody bothered you, and you could do your job, it wouldn’t be as difficult. But today, it would take a different personality.
“You’d have to talk about it before the game. You’d have to do it during the game. Then you’d have to go to a press room after the game and tell everybody how you did it.”
Despite Gwynn’s four batting titles, and his career .331 batting average, his longest hitting streak is 25 games, set in his second season in 1983.
“And that one seemed like it lasted forever,” Gwynn said. “I really thought I was on a roll. And I wasn’t even halfway to the record.
“I really don’t think I could do it. I wouldn’t have the personality. I’d see myself snapping at some point. But man, it’d sure be great giving it a run. They’d be busting in on Cosby, saying, ‘Here’s Tony Gwynn, going for the record.’
“It’d be something, wouldn’t it?”
Gwynn knows what he’s doing wrong. He tells himself to correct it. Yet he can’t seem to shake the bad habit. He is in his deepest slump of the year.
Gwynn, who was batting .360 a week ago, is in a three-for-23 (.130) skid, cutting his average to .345. Although it still leads the league, Gwynn’s batting average is at its lowest since May 20.
“I’ve just been jumping at the ball lately,” Gwynn said. “Basically, I’m just getting myself out. If I don’t keep my weight back for the perfect amount of time, forget it.
“I know if I stay back, I can hit the ball. I know that. I mean, the only guy who has thrown the ball by me all year (for a strikeout) is Rob Dibble.
“So that’s the frustrating thing, knowing I’m just getting myself out.”
Reliever Craig Lefferts was unavailable to pitch Wednesday because he was feeling ill. . . . Padre reliever Rafael Valdez of triple-A Las Vegas will undergo arthroscopic surgery today on his right shoulder and miss the remainder of the season. Dr. Jan Fronek will operate to clean out loose cartilage and stabilize the shoulder. Valdez had pitched just 16 2/3 innings in five games for Las Vegas. He now is the third Padre pitcher on the 40-man roster to undergo an operation this season, joining Ed Whitson and Pat Clements. . . . Padre catcher Dann Bilardello visited Met reliever Tim Burke and his family Wednesday at the children’s hospital in Montreal. Burke’s adopted 10-month-old daughter, Nicole, underwent open-heart surgery Wednesday, and her condition was unstable. “They’re going through a tough time right now,” Bilardello said. “It’s been a real tough day.” . . . The Padres have pushed back Andy Benes’ next start until Tuesday, allowing Bruce Hurst to pitch on his regular four days rest Sunday. . . . Padre second baseman Jose Mota of triple-A Las Vegas cleared waivers and now is at Las Vegas on an outright assignment.