SAN DIEGO — Here's more evidence that the Padres will look a lot different next season.
On Friday they:
--Chose not to exercise infielder Jerry Royster's option, saying it's time to go with their kids.
--Assigned second baseman Bip Roberts' contract to Triple-A Las Vegas. In other words, they took him off the 40-man roster, which means Roberts can be selected by any other major league team in this year's minor league free agent draft.
--Released 36-year-old pinch-hitter Dane Iorg. He had said he was going to retire, anyway.
--Asked waivers on relief pitcher Bob Stoddard for the purpose of his outright release.
These announcements came three days after a managerial change and one day after a major trade involving starting catcher Terry Kennedy.
"Stay close to the phone this winter," General Manager Jack McKeon has told reporters.
Of Friday's moves, the most intriguing involve Roberts and Royster.
Roberts, 23, had the same thing happen to him last year when he was with Pittsburgh. The Pirates needed to open up some roster space, didn't protect him, and he was claimed by the Padres. Immediately, McKeon said Roberts, 5-feet 7-inches, had a shot to be the starting second baseman. He had good speed, McKeon said.
In retrospect, saying that might have been a mistake. Roberts' work habits were questioned by the coaching staff. "Bip doesn't understand the little man's game," first base coach Sandy Alomar said.
Roberts started on opening day, was embarrassed by the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela and went 0 for 20 before collecting an infield single. His average at one point was .287, but he finished at .253. Former Manager Steve Boros never had complete confidence in him.
"We need the roster space," McKeon said of the Roberts move. ". . . If someone takes him (in the draft), fine. So what? He did all right (last year), but maybe he's not quite good enough right now. He might have been handicapped with the way he was played, I don't know. If someone picks him up, they pick him up. I'm not concerned with losing him."
Royster, 34, was a popular player who used to go skiing with team president Ballard Smith. Royster could also play four positions--third, short, second and the outfield.
But the Padres thought he was best at third base, and McKeon wants to go with other people at third and other infield positions. People such as Randy Ready, Gary Green and Joey Cora.
"He (Royster) is 34, 35 years old," McKeon said. "We're making a lot of changes now, and you just go to start getting young guys ready to play a long time."
Royster was unavailable for comment Friday, but his agent, Tony Attanasio, was confused by the move. By not picking up Royster's option, the Padres must pay a contract buy out worth $75,000. Attanasio says they could have easily picked up the option, saved the $75,000, traded him and gotten something in return.
"I just can't understand the logic of this," he said. "Right now they get nothing for him and it cost them $75,000. . . . I respect Jack for 99.9% of the things he does, but this one here, I can't understand it."
McKeon's response: "Did you ask Tony if anyone wanted him (Royster)? I tried trading him."