Minor league staff support will see changes

While all managers except Roy Howell will return, there will be some movement and new blood among the pitching and hitting staff's within the Padres' minors.

Just prior to the kickoff of the Instructional Leagues, Grady Fuson, the Padres VP of Scouting and Player Development, stressed the importance of the changeup to young pitchers who enter the system. He wants it to be the first pitch they master.

That importance has been taken to a new level. Changes are expected at the lower levels of the system, specifically the pitching coaches.

The goal is to get the best teachers at the lower levels to erase bad habits before they start. Having to iron out those kinks when a player is in High-A becomes infinitely more difficult.

While some of the red tape must be finalized, Fuson did admit there would be some coming and goings with an announcement expected next week.

"I have a little movement going with the pitching coaches," he said. "I wanted to get better at the lower levels, some more experience at those levels."

While no names were dropped, there are several candidates that could be sent down to the lower levels in what will be deemed a promotion because of the emphasis that Fuson is placing on pitching.

Gary Lance, with the Beavers in 2005, has been a pitching coach for 23 years. He has the experience that Fuson is seeking.

Dave Rajisch, with the Storm in 2005, has been toeing the rubber for 15 season as a pitching coach and has shown an ability to nurture a pitching staff, aiding Padres' Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Jared Wells, to his finest season.

It appears Mike Harkey will not be back in Mobile. It is no secret that Harkey, who lives in California, would welcome a move to the Lake Elsinore Storm so he can be closer to home. He would also fit in well in Portland. Harkey, incidentally, was at nearly all of the home playoff games during the Storm's Championship run. Harkey is also reportedly up for a job in the Florida Marlins organization.

This does not mean all the changes to the supporting staff will come from within. A trainer will be needed in Fort Wayne to replace John Navarro and other spots figure to be tweaked as well.

"There are a couple outsiders who we will bring aboard that we respect, like and appreciate," said Fuson.

No one will confirm who will be in the Eugene dugout opening night.

One name we have speculated in connection with the Emeralds managerial job is Rob Deer. He spent the past season as the roving hitting instructor and has a great relationship with the players. It would seem to be a perfect fit, unless his talents are deemed more valuable making the rounds.


Clark Girardeau underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Monday, Nov. 7, 2005 in San Diego. Surgery was performed by the Padres team doctors. A bone spur was removed from his right elbow right at his release point in his pitching motion. Scar tissue was also successfully cleaned up and he is expected to make a full recovery im time for spring training 2006.

This bone spur has been causing on and off pain, fluid build up, and was a factor in Girardeau's dropped velocity through the season. Girardeau will remain in San Diego until mid-November before reporting to the Padres Spring Training facilities in Arizona where he will began his rehab.

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