Hairston hopes to fend off competition

Kevin Towers is still looking for another corner outfielder. But the general manager says he won't be concerned if the Padres enter the regular season with Scott Hairston as their regular left fielder.

If that doesn't excite Padres fans, consider these two points.

Last year at this time, the Padres were counting on Terrmel Sledge to have a breakthrough season. They even envisioned Sledge as a potential leadoff hitter.

Sledge, however, hit .210 for the season with seven homers and 23 RBIs and was the odd man out as soon as Milton Bradley was acquired from Oakland.

Scott Hairston, 27, was a midseason acquisition by the Padres last year. He hit .287 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in just 87 at-bats after coming over from Arizona in a trade for minor league pitcher Leo Rosales.

The Padres are further intrigued by the right-handed-hitting Hairston because he batted .389 (14-for-36) with five homers and 11 RBIs in 13 home games.

"I'd love to get the chance to show what I could do as an everyday player," Hairston said recently. "I was always the fourth outfielder with Arizona. I'd really like to find out for myself what I could do if given the job.

"When I came to the Padres last year, I was given the opportunity to play regularly, and I thought it was going well until I got hurt."

He was out from Aug. 10 to Sept. 8 with a strained left oblique muscle.

Hairston isn't the only outfield question facing the Padres.

Incumbent right fielder Brian Giles had microfracture surgery to his right knee just after the 2007 season and is a question mark for Opening Day. And veteran Jim Edmonds, who replaces free agent Mike Cameron in center, has seen his games played and production go down each of the past three seasons.

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