Joey Cora could have been killed.
Late Saturday night, after he went hitless in a Double-A minor league game at San Antonio, Cora--the Padres' No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft and supposedly ticketed for the major leagues in one or two years--left the clubhouse to wait for the team bus. He was joined by teammates Sandy Alomar Jr., Candy Sierra and Eric Hardgrave.
A couple of guys--they'd never seen them before--came by and yelled something nasty. They continued to taunt. Cora, in a bad mood after the way he'd played, said something under his breath.
His teammates told him to cool it.
The guys kept yelling.
Cora, 21, didn't cool it. He answered back to them.
The guys went and got some of their friends. About 11 of them approached Cora and asked him what he'd said. Hardgrave said they were ballplayers and wanted no trouble. The guys called Cora a name. Cora again answered.
They punched him.
Then, they stabbed him.
They took off in their cars, and pitcher Mike Mills got their license plate number. Two members of the gang were apprehended and taken into custody.
Cora, meanwhile, underwent successful surgery. There was a two-inch wound in his abdomen, and the knife cut a part of his small intestine. He will be hospitalized five days and will be out of action about six weeks.
"The injury is not career-threatening," Padre publicist Mike Swanson said.
But Sandy Alomar Sr.--the Padre first-base coach--called his son and asked how serious it was. Sandy Jr. told his dad: "The doctor told me if the stab was two inches lower, Joey's probably dead."
Alomar Sr., a minor league manager last season, said: "They didn't have air conditioning in the clubhouse, so he waited outside for the bus. A lot of the guys were still in there showering. But when I was managing in the minors, the bus was always waiting for us after a game. Why wasn't the bus there? The bus should've been there."