SAN DIEGO — After Padre starter Eric Show retired the first seven New York Mets batters he faced Monday night, the mood in the Padre bullpen was relaxed.
Dave LaPoint was happy because the sun had just dipped below the rim of the stadium, giving him a better view of the game.
Then, in the third inning, with the Padres ahead, 1-0, the bullpen phone rang unexpectedly.
LaPoint was told to warm up. Ten pitches later, he was on the mound. Show, who was pitching a perfect game, had just lost another battle with his sore throwing elbow. LaPoint, who had pitched to only one batter in the past week, was in the game.
"None of us (in the bullpen), even knew Eric's arm was hurting," said LaPoint, who is 0-1 with a 4.82 earned-run average. "It looked like he was throwing good in the first inning. At that point, with Eric doing so well, you don't expect to come in."
The Padres eventually lost, 5-2. Craig Lefferts, who pitched the final two innings, took the loss.
LaPoint immediately gave up a double to Rafael Santana and walked pitcher Ron Darling on four consecutive pitches. In 4 innings of work, he allowed five hits and two earned runs.
Since coming to the Padres on July 9, LaPoint's role has been uncertain.
After acquiring LaPoint in a trade that sent Mark Thurmond to Detroit, Manager Steve Boros had hinted that LaPoint might be moved into the starting rotation. LaPoint, who has had only one start since coming to San Diego, has been a starter for three of his four seasons in the majors.
Boros said after Monday night's game that LaPoint may replace Show in the starting rotation if Show needs more rest. Show's condition was uncertain Monday night.
"(LaPoint) may prove to be very valuable to us this year and next year because he can start," Boros said, adding that "there is no telling what the composition" of the Padres will be next season.
LaPoint impressed Boros in the seventh inning by retiring Met right fielder Darryl Strawberry on a ground out with the bases loaded.
"That was a big out. That kept us in the game," Boros said.
Those are the kind of situations LaPoint said he likes to be in.
"I like a challenge," he said. "The Mets are a good team. If I'm going to help (the Padres), I have to prove I can do well against a team like the Mets."
LaPoint, who has played for five major league teams, said he is happy in any role the Padres choose for him.
"I don't think there is any doubt that I want to be a starter," LaPoint said. "This is the team I want to stay with, and if they want me to be a starter, that's fine. If they want me to be a long reliever, that's fine. (Boros) doesn't have to ask me. All he has to do is give me the ball and I'll come in in any situation."