Craig’s Illness Overshadows Benito’s Day : Baseball: Giants manager is hospitalized with heart condition. Padre catcher goes five for five with five RBIs in 13-2 victory over San Francisco.
The San Francisco Giants spoke in hushed tones. Their faces revealed shock and disbelief. Having already endured a miserable season, who could have envisioned it would lead to this?
Giant Manager Roger Craig underwent an emergency procedure Friday afternoon to remove blockage in an artery on the left side of his heart, preventing what doctors say would have resulted in a heart attack.
It was the news of Craig that overshadowed the Padres’ 13-2 victory over the Giants at Candlestick Park, highlighted by the finest offensive performance of Padre catcher Benito Santiago’s career.
Santiago tied a franchise record by going five for five and equalled his career-high with five RBIs. He had an RBI single in the first inning, a two-run double in the second, an RBI single in the fourth, a single in the sixth and a solo homer in the seventh. It was the 10th time in franchise history a player got five hits, the last occurring Aug. 11, 1987, when Tony Gwynn accomplished the feat.
The night continued an extraordinary stretch for Santiago, who is 11 for 22 with eight RBIs this week.
The Padres unleashed a 15-hit attack while Padre starter Ricky Bones shut down the Giants, yielding only two hits in six innings. The Padres are averaging 9.75 runs per game in Bones’ four victories this season.
But the focus this night was Craig, 61, the former Padre manager who lives in Warner Springs, outside San Diego.
Dr. Mark Gradman performed an angioplasty on Craig Friday afternoon at Stanford Hospital in which a balloon was inserted to clear an artery that was 90% blocked.
Craig was expected to be released from the hospital this afternoon, but won’t be allowed to return to managing until at least Monday. Bench coach Bob Lillis will manage the Giants in Craig’s absence.
“Everybody’s worried about him right now,” Giant reliever Jeff Brantley said. “I think this season has been real taxing on him. He’s taken it all on himself that we haven’t done the things we should do. It’s our fault we’re losing, not his fault.
“I think the problem Roger faces is one of high expectations. We didn’t live up to them, and I think that makes it even more stressful for him.”
The Giants, who spent $33 million in the free-agent market, were predicted to battle the Dodgers for the National League West title. Instead, they have compiled a 64-77 record and are in danger of finishing in last place.
Giant physician Will Straw said that the stress of managing the Giants might have brought out the symptoms, but he doubted it caused the heart problem.
“This line of occupation,” Straw said, “you can assume there’s a lot of stress, even when things go well. I don’t know if winning would have made a big difference.”
Craig, 61, who has one year remaining on his contract, said this past week that he’d like to manage through the 1993 season. Yet it’s unknown whether he’ll have the same ambition when he returns.
“If we lower his cholesterol and adjust his diet,” Straw said, “everything should be just fine.”
Craig, who will undergo another treadmill test Monday, first felt chest pains Wednesday afternoon after the Giants’ 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. He dismissed it as heartburn or indigestion and attempted to alleviate his discomfort by walking half a mile from Riverfront Stadium to the team hotel.
Instead, the pain increasingly became worse, and when batting coach Dusty Baker saw him halfway to the hotel, he knew something was terribly wrong.
“He wasn’t tripping out or anything,” Baker said, “but something just didn’t look right. I saw him walking up the hill, and was about 200 yards from him, and he looked huge. It was weird. He’s a big man, anyway, but it looked like he was 6-9.
“He wasn’t staggering or anything, he was just moving real slow-like. I would usually just wave and keep on walking, but something told me to wait. He didn’t seem happy to see me or glad to see me. He was like in a state of nothing.
“I didn’t want to look frightened, because I didn’t want to scare him. I learned that in the military. I just acted calm and helped walk him back to the hotel.”
Craig immediately went to bed, and when he awoke, he felt fine. The chest pains were gone. The fear vanished. The only problem was that Craig was left with his same team, which lost 7-3 to the Reds, their 14th defeat in the past 17 games.
“When Roger told me what he was feeling,” Giant pitching coach Norm Sherry said, “I told him he needed to get a stress test. I had bypass surgery in ’78, and what he was feeling was the first signs.
“The next thing I knew, he was in the hospital.”
Craig was running on a treadmill at home Friday when he felt the chest pains again. This time, he knew his heart was telling him that something was wrong. He underwent an electrocardiogram exam and treadmill test, both of which revealed abnormality in his coronary arteries. He then underwent a coronary angiogram, which prompted the surgical procedure.
It was the second time this season that Craig suffered chest pains. He complained of pain in late May when the Giants got off to a 12-27 record, but a treadmill test showed no abnormalities. Pittsburgh Pirate Manager Jim Leyland also had chest pains this season, causing their team flight to have an emergency landing in Columbus, Ohio.
“It’s scary to see what’s going on,” said Padre Manager Greg Riddoch, who was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat 13 years ago. “There’s so much stress involved in this game, and a lot of it is self-imposed. It’s totally different than anything you can imagine.
“You’ve got to stop and realize this is only your job, it’s not life and death.”