SAN DIEGO — If any National League reliever looks as intimidating as Goose Gossage or Lee Smith, it might well be Tim Stoddard.
And now, the Padres, not the Chicago Cubs, have two of the three on their side. Stoddard left the Cubs as a free agent Tuesday to sign a three-year deal with the Padres worth approximately $1.5-million.
Stoddard, 31, actually is bigger than either Gossage or Smith. Stoddard stands 6-feet 7-inches and weighs 250 pounds. Gossage is 6-3 and 215 pounds, and Smith is 6-6, 220.
"Stoddard is an imposing figure on the mound because he's so big," Manager Dick Williams said. "He has to put a little fear in a hitter's mind. Getting him cures our bullpen, we believe."
Acquiring Stoddard also helps solve the Padres' starting rotation problem now that Ed Whitson and Tim Lollar are gone. Andy Hawkins probably will take over the right-handed spot from Whitson and Dave Dravecky probably will replace Lollar as the left-hander.
Stoddard will be used in middle relief by the Padres, much as he was by the Cubs.
In 1984, Stoddard had one of his better major league seasons. He was 10-6 with 7 saves and a 3.82 earned-run average in 58 games.
Stoddard had perhaps his best game July 3 in San Diego when the Cubs beat the Padres, 3-2. He earned the save with four scoreless innings of relief. He struck out six and allowed only two hits.
Williams said Stoddard, Gossage and Craig Lefferts are definite relievers for 1985. Two more spots are up for grabs among Luis DeLeon, Greg Booker, Greg Harris and minor-leaguers Ed Wojna and Ray Hayward.
Stoddard will fill the role DeLeon had before DeLeon missed much of 1984 with elbow tendinitis. General Manager Jack McKeon said there is still a question about DeLeon's status, but Williams noted that DeLeon made the all-star team in the Puerto Rican winter league.
Even so, Stoddard primarily will be the man to set the table for Gossage and Lefferts.
"There will be times when Goose needs a day off and Stoddard will be our right-handed stopper," Williams said. "We'll use him similar to the way the Cubs did. We may have him close out more if Goose is having a rough day."
Before 1984, Stoddard suffered through two tough years in Baltimore.
He was 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA and 12 saves in 1982, but twice was out with injuries. He missed the first month of the season with a stiff shoulder and the last month with torn ligaments in his right knee after falling in a New York restaurant.
In 1983, Stoddard was 4-3 with a 6.09 ERA and nine saves. However, he did not pitch in the American League Championship Series or the World Series.
Stoddard was traded from Baltimore to Oakland for infielder Wayne Gross on Dec. 9, 1983. He was traded from Oakland to the Cubs on March 26, 1984 for two minor leaguers.
Stoddard was noted more for his basketball prowess than baseball in college. He was the starting power forward on North Carolina State's NCAA championship team in 1974. Others in the starting lineup included forward David Thompson, center Tom Burleson and guards Mo Rivers and Monte Towe.
Stoddard was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1975 and made his major league debut that year after only 31 professional games. But he was released by the White Sox in 1977 and signed with Baltimore. He had his best season for the Orioles in 1980, recording 26 saves in 64 games.
In Stoddard's six-year career he has a 29-20 record, 64 saves and a 3.70 ERA.
"He throws about the same as Goose," McKeon said. "He throws over 90 miles per hour. He's a power pitcher who can come into a jam and record a strikeout. He struck out more batters than Lee Smith last year in fewer innings."
Stoddard struck out 87 men in 92 innings, Smith 86 in 101 innings. Imposing figures, indeed. 1985 Padre Pitching Staff:
Right-handers--Goose Gossage, Andy Hawkins, LaMarr Hoyt, Eric Show and Tim Stoddard.
Left-handers--Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts and Mark Thurmond.
Right-handers--Greg Booker, Luis DeLeon, Greg Harris and Ed Wojna.