YUMA, Ariz. — Al Bumbry has arrived here with hopes of continuing his major-league career. Bumbry has been invited to the Padres' spring training as a free agent and will try to earn a spot on the roster.
At 37, Bumbry became expendable after 12 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. It was not the happiest of partings.
"I didn't want to leave Baltimore," he said. "But they felt I couldn't help their ballclub. I didn't fit into their plans."
Bumbry played in 119 games for the Orioles last season and hit .270. He had his best year in 1980, hitting .318 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs and stealing 44 bases.
Padre General Manager Jack McKeon said Bumbry could make the club as a reserve.
"He's got a world of experience," he said. "We're looking for a part-time player, and he fits that role.
"He's going to be in competition to make the club. If he does well and we like what we see, we'll have an opportunity to sign him."
In the meantime, Bumbry hasn't forgotten his Baltimore roots and the abrupt manner in which his career with the Orioles ended.
"After 12 years, you don't just divorce yourself from it and be happy about it," he said.
Tony Gwynn, who led the major leagues in batting (.353) and hits (213) and became the first player in San Diego history to collect more than 200 hits in a season, is the only Padre regular besides Kevin McReynolds to report to spring training early.
After the season Gwynn had last year, one would think he isn't exactly in need of extra work. So, why the early arrival?
"Number one, I've missed it," he said. "Number two, I wanted to hit live pitching, and number three, I had to start paying on the condo I'm renting out here."
It didn't take Gwynn long to get his first look at "live" pitching. Midway through the Padres' batting practice session Monday, Rich Gossage prepared to take the mound for the first time this spring, with Gwynn in the batting cage.
Said Gwynn, to minor-league catcher Mark Parent, who was due to hit next: "Your turn, Mark."
New Padre pitching coach Galen Cisco goes way back with manager Dick Williams. Back to 1966, in fact, when he played for Williams' Triple-A team in Toronto in the International League.
Cisco said he was released by the Mets' Triple-A team in Jacksonville when he approached Williams about a job on his pitching staff.
"It was during a game," Cisco said. "He had walked out of the dugout and I said something to him. He said if I was released, he'd talk to me after the game.
"Four or five days later, I signed with him."
Williams became the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1967, and when he needed pitching help after the All-Star break, he called on Cisco. They were reunited again in 1980 when Cisco joined Williams' staff in Montreal. He served as the Expos' pitching coach for five seasons, including two under Williams.
McKeon on the Padres' pitching: "Basically, we feel that our pitching staff is stronger this year than it was last year. Everybody was taking shots at it last year, yet we still won 92 games and won the pennant, so it couldn't have been that bad."