SAN DIEGO — Some kid asked Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully to autograph a baseball Sunday, and when Scully tossed the ball back, the kid dropped it.
"Worst hands I've ever seen," Scully told him.
To which the kid answered: "Worse than Carmelo Martinez?"
Martinez, the Padre left fielder, was again the victim of vicious booing Sunday. Each time a ball bounced in front of him or over him or near him, the crowd crowed.
Afterward, he finally booed back.
"I'm not making excuses, but I've never been comfortable at that position and never will," he said. ". . . My first year here, I did a great job, but anything that happens now, they blame it on me."
One play Sunday stood out. In the seventh, Bill Russell looped one to left, and Martinez couldn't come up quick enough to catch it.
"No way, no chance to catch that ball," he said. "Not even Tim Raines would've caught it. They're booing me. They think that's funny. They think that's great."
Teammate Tony Gwynn thinks it's terrible.
"The fans are entitled to express their opinions, but they're booing everything Carmelo does," Gwynn said. "Like that ball Russell hit. He couldn't (be expected to) catch that ball. Carmelo isn't a left fielder anyway. Fans are entitled to an opinion, but it doesn't make much sense. I looked around, and people were standing up booing him and saying stuff. To me, that's very frustrating.
"Here's a guy who led the team in home runs last year (with 21), and he's done a lot for us. He's a first baseman playing the outfield and doing the best he can. And every ball hit his way, he's taking abuse. On the road, it's one thing. But at home, that's tough. . . We all make mistakes, but they're rubbing Carmelo's nose in it."
Graig Nettles got a rare start against a left-hander Sunday, but only because he hits Rick Honeycutt so well (13 for 36 lifetime). Manager Steve Boros said he still will platoon Nettles and Jerry Royster at third base. "Royster hasn't lost his job," Boros said. But Boros admitted that he'll play newcomer Randy Ready some at third base and some at second. He might bench switch-hitting Bip Roberts against certain left-handers. Roberts, he said, is hitting better from the left side. . . . Ready left the team Sunday to be with his ill wife, Dorene. . . . When the Padres acquired Ready last week, that meant someone had to be sent to the minors. That someone turned out to be rookie John Kruk, who apparently took the news well. Kruk told Boros that he wanted to get to Las Vegas and play right away. General Manager Jack McKeon, startled to hear this enthusiasm, called Kruk and they had a nice chat. Kruk might not be down very long, anyway. Boros said Sunday: "He's got to be down (in Las Vegas) 10 days, but who knows what might happen after that. He didn't fail here. If for some reason a roster spot opens up--if somebody gets hurt or we make a deal--he'll be back here." See, the Padres still are trying to complete a trade, which might be a good way to send a message to some guys who are slumping. "Oh, we've tried other kinds of messages," Boros said, "but we don't want to hurt ourselves (with a trade) in our effort to send a Western Union telegram to the players."