PADRES UPDATE : NOTEBOOK : Catchers Bilardello, Lampkin in Battle for Same Roster Spot


They wear the tools of ignorance, but Dann Bilardello and Tom Lampkin know the score: They’re aware one probably won’t make the Padres.

Whoever stays faces limited playing time unless All-Star catcher Benito Santiago is traded.

So Lampkin, 28, a left-handed hitter, lifts more weights and catches doubleheaders and tries to make an impression.


Bilardello, who turns 33 in May, takes a less intense approach--do what’s asked and don’t worry about things beyond your control, he says with a shrug.

“Whatever decision they make I’ll be happy,” Bilardello said. “They know the job I did last year, they know what I can do.”

Because both players are out of options, they can’t be released unless they clear waivers. Chances are either would be picked up by another club.

Bilardello, who bats right-handed like Santiago, signed with the Padres as a free agent before the 1991 season and spent most of the year in Las Vegas. Considered an excellent handler of pitchers, Bilardello hit .269 in 15 games with the Padres, his fourth major league club.

“I didn’t need to come to camp and hit .400,” he said. “I did that last year and still didn’t make the team. They know what I can do.”

Lampkin was acquired from Cleveland in the Alex Cole trade in July, 1990. He played in 26 games with the Padres that year and 38 in 1991.

“Spring training has always been an important time for me--I’ve always had to make the club,” Lampkin said. “It’s important for me to make this team--nobody knows what’s gonna happen to Benny (Santiago)--if (a trade) happens I could be here for some years.”

Lampkin, who has a regular weight regimen, came to camp with the intention of winning a job, not getting in shape. “I like to come to camp ready to play,” he said. “I feel like I prepared myself well in the off-season. That’s important for me, ‘cause I’m not a star-status player.”

Though competing for the same spot, Lampkin and Bilardello are friends--if they’re even rivals. “We respect each other. You don’t think of it as taking someone else’s job,” Lampkin said. “You take the job yourself. I don’t feel like I’m in competition with Danny--I’m in competition with myself for a job. I want Danny to play in the major leagues as much as I do.”

Lampkin is batting .200 in the spring, but with four extra-base hits and five runs batted in. Bilardello is hitting .238. Lampkin caught 13 innings Monday and was back in subbing for Santiago in the sixth inning Tuesday afternoon.

“I can catch everyday--you’re not gonna wear me out catching,” he said.

Both are awaiting roster cuts and the possibility of going elsewhere. “I can catch, I can throw, I can handle pitchers--if not here, possibly another club,” Bilardello said.

Said Lampkin: “I would like to play everyday but . . . if I had a choice to play anywhere in baseball it’d be here.”

Manager Greg Riddoch will only say that “one of our dilemmas is the second catcher. Nothing is clear cut. It will probably go all the way to the end (of spring training).”

Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, talked with the Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays again Tuesday with nothing new to report.

McIlvaine said “it’s a tough call right now” concerning a possible deal for Brewer third baseman Gary Sheffield. He continues to resist Toronto’s offers for Santiago.

Riddoch said: “If I had to bet everything I own I’d bet Benito will not be traded (shortly).”

Time and numbers may have run out on right-hander Mike York, who threw five innings of the Padres’ 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday. York gave up two runs and six hits, and battled out of trouble in the fifth.

York, 0-2 in the spring, is one of a handful of pitchers competing for one of two spots in the starting rotation. He probably won’t get another exhibition start.

Approximately six roster cuts are expected Friday or Saturday when, Riddoch said, the rotation “will start narrowing down fast . . . they’ll fill in the blanks.”

York is being considered only for a starting spot. Versatile veterans Craig Lefferts and Mark Knudson could be spot starters and middle men.

Lefferts is scheduled to start today against the San Francisco Giants. The rotation has become so backed up that Andy Benes will throw this morning in a minor league game.

“Last year we were flipping coins,” Riddoch said. “This year it’s a little different dilemma. We’ve got a couple guys we can choose from. That’s a nice dilemma.”

Riddoch said that barring injury, Bruce Hurst will be the Padres’ opening day pitcher in Cincinnati.

The Padres won Tuesday, 4-3, when Phil Stephenson singled to lead off the ninth and Cub catcher Rick Wilkins threw away Jim Vatcher’s sacrifice bunt allowing the winning run . . . Randy Myers got the victory, though he gave up the go-ahead run in the eighth. . . . Fred McGriff had a run-scoring triple and a single. Santiago was two for two with an RBI. . . . The Padres are 3-1 in their final Yuma home stand. . . . Pitcher Ed Whitson will undergo further tests on his ailing right elbow today in Birmingham, Ala. Whitson has been told not to touch a baseball this week and will open the season on the disabled list. . . . Third baseman Craig Worthington was held out again Tuesday. He’s nursing a high hamstring strain and could miss another day or two. . . . The Montreal Expos and Kansas City Royals have begun to express interest in Padre left-hander Craig Lefferts.