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Bevacqua Is Given Little Chance to Stick With Padre s : Time Is Running Out on Baseball Career of a One-of-a-Kind Journeyman

March 16, 1986|TOM FRIEND | Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX — The San Diego Padre team bus is leaving in an hour, and Kurt Bevacqua has things to do. First, he calls the wife. She's in a beauty pageant this weekend, and he wishes her the best. Then he packs his glove, his uniform, his bubble gum, and lastly, packs his briefcase. He's off.

It's two hours to Tucson, so he can work on the way. These days, he publishes a baseball newspaper, and he needs more advertising to keep it afloat. In Yuma, recently, he even was found delivering his own papers.

"What the hell is a publisher for?" he said.

Lately, he has been spending more time on business. His briefcase overflows with memos. He's busy making advertisement proposals to breweries.

"I have a lot of spare time to work anyway," he said. "I could do those proposals on the bench if I wanted."

That's because he has been spending more time on that bench, too. The Padres invited him to spring training as a non-roster player, but as far as they're concerned, he's a nonentity. He became a free agent this winter, couldn't find a team to take him and when he wanted to come back to the Padres, the new collective bargaining agreement stated that he couldn't sign with his former team until May 1.

The Padres let him come to Yuma anyway, but the writing's on the clubhouse wall. Last season, during an organizational meeting, Padre staffers were discussing players, and most of them were criticizing Bevacqua. Dick Williams, then manager, said: "Well, he's in the lineup tonight."

Someone pretty high up in the front office said: "Oh good. Remind me to take my aspirin."

So, unless there's a miracle, unless the Padres or some other team gets desperate, Kurt Bevacqua is done. He's gone.

"At least I'll have a paper route," he said.

He was joking, of course. Kurt Bevacqua, who says, "I think everyone thinks more highly of themselves than they should, but some just show it more," thinks very highly of himself. He says he is not pondering retirement. He is not pondering, period.

"I can say, truthfully, that I don't think I've ever been--how can I word this--smart enough to realize my career could end at any minute," he said. "There were probably other times when I was two weeks away from ending my career, but I didn't think about it."

Think about this: He probably has three weeks left.

After 14 seasons, he will finish a career .236 hitter.

"I've got a lot of things I can do," he said. "Uh, you want to know what they are?"

Seriously, he has options. A few years back, he says Padre President Ballard Smith asked him if he'd like to manage in their system.

"Maybe I turned them off a little when I said I'd be interested, but not in the minors," Bevacqua said.

He considers Smith's offer a standing offer, however.

He could always be a broadcaster. Cox Cable, a San Diego firm that televises Padre home games, contacted him over the winter and asked if he'd be interested. Since he still was interested in playing, he said thanks, but no thanks.

He did get another phone call this winter, from a Del Mar man who wanted to start a financial service for athletes. He wanted Bevacqua to represent his players. Sorry, but he had enough problems representing himself.

This winter, he wanted to play. For the first time in his life, he lifted weights. Word got out among Padre players. One said: "How old is he, 38? Good time to start."

Said Bevacqua: "Hey, it's never too late to do anything. I could've done it a long time ago, but I'm not into body building. I'm into baseball. . . . "But baseball is a funny game. People in baseball tend to help the people who don't need help. Where do you think Deacon Jones (Padre batting coach) was during the whole Atlanta fight (in 1984)? Standing right next to Tony Gwynn."

Bevacqua has been helped by a computer this winter. Eager to come to camp fitter than fit, he was put on a diet by consulting this computer. Give the computer information about your build and life style and it tells you what to eat.

Mainly, Bevacqua has cut down on sugar. He says he's probably in the best shape of his life.

And the gall of the Padres. This winter, Andy Strasberg, the team marketing director, asked Bevacqua if he would like an invitation to this year's old-timer's game.

"I wasn't sure if he was serious or not," Bevacqua said, "but I told him to stick it where the sun don't shine."

Watch for Bevacqua to start at second base.

If all else fails, he knows he'll have to retire. And what will this bring? Well, he blew his $42,000 World Series check on a bad investment.

"The company went under," he said.

He used to have interests in a La Costa limousine service.

"Oh, I entered a lawsuit against them last winter," he said. "They didn't fulfill part of an obligation they promised."

If all else fails, there's his wife, Carrie, a former Playboy Club bunny, who is in the running for Mrs. California honors.

"Maybe, we've got the beginning of one career (his wife's) and the end of another (his)," he said.

It looks that way.

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