SAN DIEGO — Standing next to his BMW on Friday, Leon "Bip" Roberts sighed and said, "I'm just glad it's over."
He had just signed his first Padre contract.
Now, can he be first string?
The Padres pray so. Although General Manager Jack McKeon says he should be able to make some deals during spring training, the team appears content with its one off-season move--drafting Roberts in December's minor league draft.
They like his speed. (He had 40 stolen bases last year in the minors.)
They like his toughness. (He played all last season with a bum shoulder.)
They like his potential at the plate. (He hit .272 as a switch-hitter with that same injury last year, and, previously, had never had a sub-.300 season.)
They like his attitude. (He keeps hanging around Goose Gossage and all those other tough guys during trainer Dick Dent's winter workouts.)
But . . .
He's only 22, and he's never played higher than Double-A ball.
"Listen, I just want to make the team," Roberts said Friday after a three-hour workout at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. "I'm not gonna take anything for granted."
So what becomes of Timry Flanster?
Last season, it was Tim Flannery and Jerry Royster who platooned at second base, but with Roberts maybe taking over, Timry would be history.
Royster would go to third base to platoon with Graig Nettles.
Flannery would go to the bench again as a super-sub.
The Padres announced Friday that outfielder Jerry Davis underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee last Saturday, but he is expected back for spring training. Davis had been working out with Dent when he heard a pop in his left knee. It turned out to be ligament and cartilage damage.
Five Padres filed for salary arbitration, but Bruce Bochy already has signed, so that leaves center fielder Kevin McReynolds, infielder Mario Ramirez and pitchers Mark Thurmond and Roy Lee Jackson.
"I think we can probably settle a couple, maybe all of them (before actually going to arbitration)," McKeon said.
But he must work quickly to avoid an arbitration hearing with McReynolds. Tom Selakovich, McReynolds' agent, will leave next Wednesday for Little Rock, Ark., where he'll begin serious preparations for the hearing.
"I can't negotiate once I start preparing the case," Selakovich said.
So they have until Wednesday to work it out, and they appear far apart. Under the rules of arbitration, both sides had to submit what they thought McReynolds should make in 1986.
The Padre side said $275,000.
McReynolds' side said $450,000.
"May the best team win," Selakovich said.
And Selakovich takes this arbitration stuff seriously. While in Little Rock, he will meet with two of his own lawyers and possibly with a labor lawyer, in preparing his case. He will bring five people (including McReynolds) to the actual arbitration hearing.
"I worked 120 hours on the (former Padre) Tim Lollar case," Selakovich said. "I'll work harder on this one."
Add Selakovich: He is angry that Padre fans became angry with McReynolds last season.
He said: "Kevin certainly was disturbed a little bit at some of the boos he received last year. Of any player I've ever represented in nine years, never have I had one who speaks more highly of the fans. . . . The fans have that right (to boo), but I think the fans need to do a little soul-searching because Kevin only ended up as the most productive seventh hitter the last two years in baseball.
"His average dropped (from .278 to .234), but he still received votes for the golden glove. He has one of the highest fielding averages over the last two years. And if he did misjudge a ball or two, that's baseball. I think the fans shortchanged one of their real true stars. We're all human beings and we make mistakes. Well, I think the fans as a group will find out they made a mistake.
"Once you win a pennant, then you get so set in your ways that you boo when a player doesn't play up to what they think his expectations are. It's a shame."
Before, according to Selakovich, McReynolds never wanted to leave San Diego.
Now . . .
"If he's traded now, I don't think it will kill him like it would've before," Selakovich said.
Baseball's Player Relations Committee issued a salary report recently which listed 45 players who will make at least $1 million this season.
The Padres have four.
They are Steve Garvey ($1.25 million), Garry Templeton ($1,103,018), Goose Gossage ($1,046,761) and LaMarr Hoyt ($1 million).
Garvey will be the fourth-highest paid first baseman behind Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt ($2,130,300), Atlanta's Bob Horner ($1.5 million) and New York's Keith Hernandez ($1.65 million); Templeton is the No. 3 shortstop behind St. Louis' Ozzie Smith ($1,940,000) and Baltimore's Cal Ripken ($1,150,000); Graig Nettles is the fifth-highest paid third baseman ($912,247) behind Kansas City's George Brett ($1,471,429), Milwaukee's Paul Molitor ($1,160,000), Oakland's Carney Lansford ($1.1 million) and Chicago's Ron Cey ($1 million); Gossage is the No. 4 relief pitcher behind Atlanta's Bruce Sutter ($1,729,167), Toronto's Bill Caudill ($1,233,333) and Boston's Bob Stanley ($1,060,000).
These rankings were made before February's arbitration hearings, which may change some things. Boston's Wade Boggs, for instance, probably will move ahead of Nettles at third base.