NOTEBOOK : PADRES UPDATE : Trade Means Scott Coolbaugh Headed for Triple-A Las Vegas

Third baseman Scott Coolbaugh was supposed to be the answer, certainly, the future. Maybe he didn’t have the power of a prototype third baseman, but his defense was an improvement over that of his predecessors.

The future changed Tuesday. The Padres traded center fielder Shawn Abner for third baseman Jack Howell of the Angels, and Coolbaugh was told to pack his bags for triple-A Las Vegas.

“They gave me so many chances,” Coolbaugh said, “I guess they thought I couldn’t do the job. It’s tough anytime you get sent down, but when they trade for a guy batting .210 . . . He wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire.

“But what can you do about it?”


Coolbaugh, who made only three starts since the All-Star break, is batting .217 with two homers and 15 RBIs. He’s being replaced on the roster by outfielder Kevin Ward of Las Vegas, who’s batting .324 with six home runs and 43 RBIs. He was told at the All-Star break that he’d be called up as soon as Abner was traded, he just didn’t figure it would take so long.

“I knew it was coming,” Coolbaugh said, “as soon as I found out who they traded for. It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines.”

The Pittsburgh Pirates, according to a Pirate scout, are attempting to acquire catcher/first baseman Brian Dorsett of triple-A Las Vegas. The Pirates submitted to the Padres a list of minor-league players from which to choose, and are awaiting the Padres’ response. Dorsett is batting .308 with 13 homers and 36 RBIs. . . . Padre starter Ed Whitson threw 35 pitches on the side Tuesday for the first time since his elbow operation, and expects to be back by September. . . . Padre shortstop Tony Fernandez was scratched before the game with his strained right thumb, and is not expected to start until Friday in Atlanta. . . . Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn, on his 11-for-63 slump (.175): “Just call me Tony Gwynn, the rally killer.”