Inside the Park

One of the weak spots for the San Diego Padres in 2003 was clutch hitting. They feel they have a team that will compete in the NL West next season, but if the hitting remains poor when opportunities present themselves, it could be another long season. Coming through when it counts will be one of the primary keys of offseason acquisitions.

Specifically the Padres were weak in plating runners in scoring position. So bad was their average that Mark Loretta was the only season-long Padre to bat over .300 in 2003.

.346 – Mark Loretta's RISP average.
.221 -- Mark Kotsay's RISP average.
.241 -- Sean Burroughs' RISP average.
.213 -- Ramon Vazquez's RISP average.
.206 -- Xavier Nady's RISP average.
.203 -- Gary Matthews Jr.'s RISP average.

Brian Giles and Phil Nevin will obviously help this situation out. Nevin hit .301 with runners in scoring position and was the beneficiary of Giles getting on base.

Gary Bennett was the only other successful hitter in those situations with a .298 RISP and he is no longer with the club.

RISP of potential Padres catchers:

AJ Pierzynski: .324
Ramon Hernandez: .266
Brad Ausmus: .248
Benito Santiago: .267

The picture of why Kevin Towers would want to trade for AJ becomes clear based on those numbers. He has not only handled a young staff that has won, he can also hit. Still, despite what Towers has said, it wont be easy to pry him away from Minnesota.

Other Notes:

--Padres manager Bruce Bochy had arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 10 to clean out his left knee.

--RHP Scott Linebrink had arthroscopic surgery Oct. 9 to clean out his right knee.

--Call it one of the realities of having a new ballpark. Holders of full-season tickets have been told that, for the first time in club history, they will have to pay to attend two preseason home exhibitions. The games in question are April 3-4 (against Seattle) at the Padres' new downtown home -- Petco Field. They will be the first two games the Padres play in their new home.

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