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LaPoint Makes His Pitch to Stay With Padres

September 03, 1986|TOM FRIEND

PHILADELPHIA — With Ballard Smith and Jack McKeon sitting in their Bob Uecker seats (front row), pitcher Dave LaPoint proved his point. He wants to be a Padre forever, and he's doing his best to shut batters down and shut his mouth, too.

"The way Goose (Gossage) is stealing the lines this year, they don't need me mouthing off," said LaPoint. "This (San Diego) is one place where I can say, 'I'm damn glad to be here!' And I don't want to mess it up."

Tuesday's game can't hurt. LaPoint earned his first victory as a Padre--going seven innings and giving up six hits in a 6-2 victory at Veterans Stadium.

The San Francisco Giants traded LaPoint last year because president Al Rosen wouldn't laugh at his jokes. One day, after the Giants had lost in front of their usual 2,000 at Candlestick Park, LaPoint told reporters: "52,000 people came to Candlestick Park today dressed as orange seats."

He admits now: "I wanted out of San Francisco. That year was the only time I've ever popped off, and thank God it worked."

Rosen shipped him to Detroit, but LaPoint said Sparky Anderson didn't like laughter in the clubhouse. That caused problems because almost every other word out of LaPoint's mouth is a punch line.

Now, he's a Padre.

Tuesday, he balked twice in the same inning, and when he finally got the third out, he said to Manager Steve Boros: "Hey, what's the record for most balks in a game?"

"Don't go for it," Boros said.

LaPoint's only problems Tuesday came in the seventh inning when he walked Luis Aguayo, pinch-hitter Milt Thompson singled in Aguayo and Gary Redus doubled Thompson to third.

Pitching coach Galen Cisco came out for a visit.

"I admit it," LaPoint said later. "I was out of gas. Galen came out and I said, 'That's about it.' And he said he didn't have a reliever up, so I should see if I can save one of these runs, maybe even two of these runs. It was a challenge."

He struck out Rick Schu and got Von Hayes to ground out--the inning was over.

"With Ballard and Jack watching, I picked a good time for a powerful game," LaPoint said.

Terry Kennedy and Kevin McReynolds took care of the offense.

Kennedy hit a first-inning home run to make it 3-0. He's hot now, and he says it's because he looked in a mirror one night, practiced his right-handed swing (he used to switch hit), saw he had better mechanics right-handed and adapted them to his left-handed swing. Presto.

McReynolds added home run No. 21 (his career high) in the fifth inning.

Tony Gwynn, by the way, had three hits Tuesday, and he says he did it to get back at the official scorer here who took away one of his hits Monday. He had lined one to shortstop that night, and Steve Jeltz leaped, got a glove on it and dropped it. The scorer said: "E-6."

Well, every time Gwynn reached base Tuesday, he turned and stared at the official scorer in the press box.

"I'm going to get 200 hits this year, I don't care if it means bunting when we're nine runs down," he said. "That call last night lit a fire for me tonight. I'm still mad. I saw the 0 for 4 in the paper this morning and said, 'I'm gonna get 'em.' "

Padre Notes The Padres recalled reliever Bob Stoddard from Las Vegas Tuesday, and more Las Vegas players will be coming soon when the team is eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoffs, which start today.

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