Buck Rodgers walked down the corridor Friday afternoon at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium when two stadium employees stopped, nudged one another and said aloud:
"Did they just fire Riddoch?"
No, Padre Manager Greg Riddoch still was employed Friday night, but everywhere Rodgers turns these days, his name is being mentioned as the next managerial candidate. This is why, he said, he has quit accepting phone calls at his home in Yorba Linda from reporters.
Rodgers, who was in San Diego to play in the Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Game, said he has been contacted recently by several clubs but has not been offered a job. He refused to confirm whether the Padres or New York Mets have contacted him but did say there has been communication with the Angels.
"I've been getting calls all over the country from the media," Rodgers said, "but I'm not going to screw up a job just to give someone the scoop. I'm not going to say anything."
Rodgers, who was fired June 3 by the Montreal Expos, is considered a top managerial candidate.
"Everybody knows I had lunch with (Angel owners) Mr. and Mrs. (Gene and Jackie) Autry," Rodgers said. "But no job was offered then, and no job has been offered now.
Although the sentimental choice is Shawn Abner of the Angels, the ex-Padre player of the week award goes to shortstop Ozzie Guillen of the Chicago White Sox.
Guillen, the All-Star shortstop who never has hit more than two home runs in a season, hit two homers in the past week, batting .292 with two doubles, five runs and five RBIs.
Guillen was dealt away Dec. 6, 1984 in one the worst trades in Padre history. He and infielder Luis Salazar were the principal players traded to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitcher LaMarr Hoyt. Within two years, Hoyt was arrested for bringing drugs across the border and soon was in prison and out of baseball.
Padre catcher Benito Santiago might make a trip to the eye doctor during the off-season.
Santiago, you see, is hitting .320 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 28 day games this season. At night, he's hitting only .229 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 79 games entering Friday.
Last season, Santiago batted .249 at night compared to .365 during the day.
"I don't understand it," Santiago said. "I've got 20-20 eyesight. Everybody has trouble seeing in the day here but me. What do you think, maybe we should have more day games."
Atlanta right fielder Keith Mitchell was given some advice by Giants outfielder Kevin Mitchell, his second cousin, before this series against the Padres:
"Hey, if you're a Mitchell, you take over in that town."
Keith Mitchell, a 1987 graduate of Lincoln High School, turned down a scholarship to the University of Arizona to sign with the Braves.
"Keith's just like me, he needed to get out of the neighborhood," Kevin Mitchell said. "Once he learns the game, he'll hit 20 to 25 homers a year."
When Padre broadcaster Rick Monday and his son, Mike, were driving to San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium on Friday afternoon, Mike told his father: "Dad, don't embarrass me today, will you?"
Monday was playing in the Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball game, and although he has kept in shape after playing 18 seasons in the major leagues, it has been quite a while since he played the game.
With Mike on the video recorder and Rick at the plate, the elder Monday slammed a homer into the seats.
Said Rick: "He just kind of looked at me, and said, 'Ah, Dad, I can't believe an old guy like you can still hit them like that.' "
Amos Otis, the Padres' former batting coach, was the only other player to hit a homer in the game.
Otis, who was fired when Riddoch took over last season, still harbors a grudge but is hopeful of being back in baseball again next season with the Kansas City Royals as their outfield and baserunning coach.
"It's been kind of nice having the year off," said Otis, who's in the custom jewelry business, "but I'm ready to get back to the game. That's where my love is."
Padre pitcher Ed Whitson, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow a month ago, threw pain-free off the mound for the first since the operation. "It feels great," he said. "I didn't want to open up completely, but really, it feels outstanding." . . . The Braves traded right-handed pitcher Dan Petry to the Boston Red Sox on Friday for a minor-league player to be named. The Braves brought up right-handed reliever Mark Wohlers to take his place on the roster. He was 1-0 with 11 saves in 22 games at triple-A Richmond and owned a 0.57 ERA with 21 saves in 28 games at double-A Greenville this season. . . . Braves right fielder David Justice, who has been on the disabled list since June 27 with lower back pains, left the team to play this weekend in Class-A Macon of the South Atlantic League. He's expected to return to the lineup Tuesday.