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Padres Search for Some Production at Leadoff

April 29, 1985|TOM FRIEND | Times Staff Writer

Early Sunday morning, before the clocks had sprung forward from 1:59 to 3 a.m., Tim Flannery had been awakened and told to go home to San Diego, for his wife was having a baby.

Then early Sunday afternoon, news came to the Padre dugout in Dodger Stadium that Flannery's wife, Donna, had given birth to a 7-pound 12-ounce boy, this being the most production from a Padre leadoff hitter in weeks.

Manager Dick Williams smiled about this, admitting his leadoff men had given him "one hit, one RBI and one baby" in the last eight days. Still, it was somewhat tainted humor, only because the Padres are being forced to change their lineup and batting philosophy now that Alan Wiggins is in a drug rehabilitation center.

And the scary part is that the Padres can't score many runs anymore and probably won't any time soon. Wiggins was their only base stealer, their only way to get quick runs. Privately, many Padre people are worried, and Williams said before Sunday's 1-0 victory over the Dodgers that there may be an upcoming transaction.

"I don't think we'll stand pat," he said. "Something's in the works, but I can't talk about it."

And since the Padres have had their yearly dose of mystery all in one weekend, this trade talk can't be healthy. Players asked reporters what they knew, and reporters said not much, considering General Manager Jack McKeon added his own sort of mystery on Sunday.

McKeon, reached at his San Diego home, said he had not heard of any possible Padre trades and had had only preliminary discussions with Williams.

"Whatever Dick's talking about, I have no idea," McKeon said. "I'm not saying we won't keep our eyes open, but who's available?"

Some unnamed Padre players speculated heavily, saying that one of their outfielders might go, either a reserve outfielder or starter Carmelo Martinez.

Said McKeon: "What would we get for him (Martinez)? We'd get a medium-level infielder, and now we'd have two places to replace next year. No, it would have to be a big deal to involve someone like that. We're not looking at anything drastic in the next 10 days, two weeks. . ."

But these changes have taken effect:

No. 1: Jerry Royster and Tim Flannery will platoon at second base, Flannery going against right-handers. As of now, whoever is in the lineup will bat leadoff.

No. 2: Now that Royster is a second baseman, Graig Nettles has nobody to platoon with at third base, so Nettles will play there exclusively.

And both Royster and Flannery had speculated about possible changes after news came Saturday that Wiggins was in a drug treatment center.

Flannery: "What do you think they'll do?"

Royster: "I think they'll platoon us."

And he was right, for Royster entered the clubhouse prior to Sunday's game, was immediately grabbed and told he'd play second base and lead off.

"It'll cause a major, major change because we no longer have 70 stolen bases and 100 runs," Royster said. "I have to do other things. Tim and I won't steal 70 bases, but we'll be hitting and running and sacrificing.

"But I like that (leading off). I think I can do a lot more things hitting first than hitting seventh. At seventh, I was thinking I had to try to drive in runs all the time. Now, I just try to get on base. That's me . . . He (Williams) still doesn't know Jerry Royster. Jerry Royster is a singles hitter who steals bases and scores runs."

Flannery, before he'd left to be with his wife, had said Friday, "I'm caught in the middle (of the Wiggins' mess), and you usually are when you're a utility player. All I can do is what I've done the last couple of years. When my name's in the lineup, I do my best, and when whoever else is in there, I cheer for them."

The concern about Nettles, 40, is age, which might have taken away some of his durability. Williams said Nettles wouldn't play every day, but would play most days.

Said Nettles: "It (playing every day) shouldn't be a problem. I've done it for 20 years. I don't see a problem. Whatever he (Williams) wants to do is fine with me."

But what will Williams do to help the Padres score runs? Prior to Sunday's game, the team averaged 3.58 runs per game, and it's fortunate for the Padres that they've allowed only 3.06 runs per game. The pitching staff has been quite sound, and perhaps this is why there are no nervous words coming from Williams' mouth.

"It (the Wiggins case) has been dealt with, and we'll go along," he said. "I'm not complaining. I'm disappointed, but . . . it's no big deal. I slept very well last night."

However, how well he'll sleep a week from now is uncertain. If things do not work, if the bats don't work, Williams said he'll consider using Tony Gwynn as a leadoff man. Garry Templeton could lead off, but he doesn't draw many walks, which is a detriment. Also, Templeton, because of knee surgery, is not as quick as he used to be.

"I know (scoring runs will be rough)," batting coach Deacon Jones said. "That's how I see it."

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