Padre pitcher Ricky Bones took a strong step foward in his bid for the fifth starter’s job Monday, pitching three hitless innings in the Padres’ 4-0 victory over the Angels.
Did he believe his outing may help convince the Padres that he’s the man for the job?
“I don’t think about that,” Bones said. “I’m just here to get myself ready for the season. Whatever happens, happens.
“But hopefully it will be the best for me, and San Diego.”
Perhaps most important, Bones said, was that he was able to have such a strong first outing. He was apprehensive because this is his first time since he turned professional that he never has pitched winter ball.
“I was getting pretty bored at home in Puerto Rico,” Bones said. “I finally had to go to a game, just to watch. But hopefully that’ll help me out, and keep me fresh for the season.”
Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, summoned pitcher Andy Benes and outfielder Jim Vatcher to his office Monday in separate meetings to soothe any bitter feelings. Both players were renewed by the Padres, and Benes has been vocal in his criticism of the Padres’ negotiating tactics.
“We talked for a long awhile, and then they gave me the renewal notice,” Benes said. “What can I say?”
Benes also threw batting practice for the first time Monday morning and experienced no discomfort from his recent adominal surgery. He could start as early as Thursday in a “B” game against the Angels.
It hardly was the same excitement that would be generated during the regular season, but considering the Padres never have had a no-hitter, the fans became aroused. The game was in the eighth inning, the Padres had used three pitchers, and the Angels still were without a hit.
Finally, with two outs in the eighth, Damion Easley broke up the no-hitter by laying down a bunt. Third baseman Tom Redington charged the ball, but was unable to make a play.
Nice strategy, but actually bunting for a hit in spring training?
“You never, ever want to get no-hit,” Easley said, “practice, spring-training games, whatever.”
Padre reliever Rafael Valdez finally arrived in camp Monday, nearly three weeks late. It was the second conseuctive year he has had visa problems leaving the Dominican Republic, ruining any chance of making the Padres out of camp. He’ll remain in the Padres’ minor league camp while the Padre travel to Phoenix. . . . Craig Shipley is far ahead of the pack in the battle for the vacant utility infield job. He went two for three in Monday’s game, and the coaching staff continues to rave about his ability. . . . Likewise, outfielder Jerald Clark is getting close to securing his status as the Padres’ starting left fielder. Clark went two for three Monday, and is batting .400 for the spring. “He’s like a new man,” Padre Manager Greg Riddoch said. . . . Buck Rodgers, who always toyed with Fred McGriff’s psyche when he managed the Montreal Expos, was up to his same antics Monday with the Angels. Each time McGriff stepped to the plate, Rodgers ordered a dramaic infield shift, moving third baseman Gary Gaetti to the shortstop location, and the rest of the infield to the entire right side. McGriff foiled it once, and failed another, going one for two. “I can see it in the regular season,” Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn said, “but spring training? Come on.”