Friar Offerings

The San Diego Padres have had a run of bad luck over the past two weeks. From players going to the disabled list five hours too late to other assorted problems. There is bright news, however, on the horizon, although it could be clouded by varied reports. What it does to the makeup of the team could shape the rest of the season.

  • The May 11 move that activated INF Jeff Cirillo from the 15-day disabled list (broken right index finger) and sent Rule 5 RHP Jason Szuminski back to the Cubs was the first change to the 25-man roster made by the Padres this season. It marked the first time that the Padres had gone a month into the season without making at least one move since Bruce Bochy became the club's manager in 1995.

    GM Kevin Towers said the Padres wouldn't have moved RHP Jason Szuminski when they did if RHP Antonio Osuna had strained his groin five hours earlier. Osuna suffered the injury the night after the Padres returned Szuminski to the Cubs.

    The Padres had been trying to put together a trade package -- that included restricted SS Rey Ordonez -- for the Cubs when they ran out of time. The Padres then waived Ordonez from their restricted list so that the Cubs could sign the four-time Gold Glover to a minor league contract.

    "I would have loved to have had more time to work out a deal," said Towers, who added that the Cubs were driving a harder bargain than the Padres could accept.

  • The next deadline for Rod Beck is Wednesday (May 19). The Padres have to activate him from the restricted list on that date or ask for an extension. Beck, who departed the Padres during spring training for "personal reasons," is scheduled to come off the restricted list and rejoin the Padres on Thursday (May 20). But Padres manager Bruce Bochy said if Beck is not ready to pitch, he will be sent out to Triple-A Portland.

    The sketchy reports available from the Padres' extended spring training camp are not encouraging. Beck's velocity is said to be 78-80 mph, and he recently gave up three runs in an inning to the Padres minor leaguers at extended spring training.

    Said Bochy: "Without having seen him, I can't say there's not some concern. But what happened last year, we're looking forward to his return."

    Scouting reports on Beck were much the same last year when the Padres signed him. He responded by going 20-for-20 in save opportunities.

    When Beck rejoins the Padres, he will be no higher than the No. 4 man in the bullpen to start. Beck's status is a reflection of the success the Padres are having with their present bullpen rotation in winnable games. RHP Scott Linebrink works the seventh, RHP Akinori Otsuka works the eighth and RHP Trevor Hoffman closes out the win. The trio has appeared in that order in nine of the Padres' 21 wins. Not only do they have glowing statistics, they have quite different styles. Linebrink, whose run of scoreless innings ended at 15 on Sunday (May 16), has a 95-96 mph fastball. He has a 1.57 ERA and has pitched in 13 of the club's wins. Japanese import Otsuka likes to say he throws a "slider sinker." Whatever, the pitch and his unorthodox delivery have helped Otsuka to a 0.95 ERA and at least one strikeout in 15 straight appearances. Hoffman has 10 saves and a 1.38 ERA.

  • On the same day Beck is scheduled to rejoin the Padres, Sterling Hitchcock is scheduled to make his first rehab start at Triple-A Portland and RHP Andy Ashby will throw off the mound for the first time since having elbow reconstruction surgery last November. Hitchcock, recovering from a fractured rib, is expected to rejoin the Padres when they return home from a 12-game road trip May 31.

  • Adam Eaton makes has not had luck on his side of late. Over his last two starts, covering 6 2/3 innings, Eaton has given up 13 runs on 15 hits. Five of the hits have been homers.

    "I don't know if I've ever been this frustrated before," Eaton said. "I'm not pitching as bad as the numbers are saying I am."

  • Mark Loretta went hitless in three straight games against the Cubs over the weekend, and his average dropped below .300 for the first time since last June. More frustrating for Loretta, he is hitting the ball hard.

    "That's what is frustrating," said Loretta. "Every liner, hard grounder is right at someone. Usually these things don't last that long. They say good hitting is contagious. Well, bad hitting can be, too. It's a funny game. Right now, it's hard to feel that there is any reward. You start wondering, 'What do you have to do?'"

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