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Padre Notebook : Rookies Make Points for Spots on the Roster

March 20, 1987|TOM FRIEND | Times Staff Writer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Padre Manager Larry Bowa used his "teeny-boppers" in Thursday's game against the San Francisco Giants and--in only nine innings--they did a lot of growing up.

Rookie outfielder Stan Jefferson had three hits, scored three runs and stole a base; rookie catcher Benito Santiago had an RBI triple; rookie catcher Mark Parent threw out three runners, had a single and a sacrifice fly RBI; rookie outfielder Shane Mack had three hits and an RBI; rookie shortstop Gary Green had two hits and two RBIs.

The Padres won, 9-7.

Rookie second baseman Joey Cora didn't get a hit, but Bowa said: "If he keeps playing like he is now, I'd say he'll make the team."

What's happening is a transition to youth. Spring training is half over and, as it stands, there could be as many as seven rookies on the 1987 Padre roster.

"We're supposed to be in transition," Bowa said. "We might as well do it all the way. Anyway, these aren't the kind of kids that'll embarrass you."

Rookie No. 1: Jefferson. Most likely he'll start in center field, but Bowa has used him in left the last two days (moving Mack to center).

"Just looking," said Bowa when asked why Jefferson was in left.

Jefferson has speed, can run under almost any ball in the outfield and has shown he can hit (.387 average this spring). The question is whether he can stay healthy. He has had a hand injury, a head injury and a sore arm. Bowa has questioned his pain tolerance.

Rookie No. 2: Santiago. He will be the starting catcher. He is batting .387 this spring. Don't worry about his throwing arm.

Rookie No. 3: Cora. Bowa pulled him aside recently to tell him to relax. Cora played Double-A last year and appears to be in awe of the veterans.

"One day he'll get a base hit off Doc Gooden or Nolan Ryan and he'll say: 'Darn it, I can play,' " Bowa said.

Rookie No. 4: Mack. In an intrasquad game nearly three weeks ago, he was spiked in the leg. He had to wear a splint. He tried hitting balls off the batting tee while wearing the splint--that's how eager he was. But Bowa has let him play the last three games, and he is beginning to excel.

In Thursday's game, he ran down a deep fly ball over his head in center. There are few fly balls that get between him and Jefferson.

"There was one ball--if (Kevin) McReynolds was in center and (John) Kruk in left, it would have been a triple," Bowa said. "But Jefferson caught it.

"I know Mack can play. He's not 20 years old; he's 24 or 25 (actually 23)."

Mack, the Padres' No. 1 choice in the 1984 June draft, played on the 1984 Olympic team and wants to play on the 1987 Padre team.

Rookie No. 5: James Steels. He can play all three outfield positions and is batting .364 this spring.

Asked if Steels and Mack could be his utility outfielders, Bowa said: "Very feasibly. And you know what I could do with Mack? We could play John (Kruk) out there in left for six or seven innings and then let Mack come in and get his feet wet. And by June or July, he might be ready to play every day."

As for Steels, he would probably be a late-inning pinch-runner who could fill in in the outfield.

Rookie No. 6: Pitcher Jimmy Jones. He's 0-1 with a 5.14 earned-run average this spring, but Bowa says he has the edge to be the fifth starter in the rotation.

Rookie No. 7: Parent. This is his eighth spring with the Padres and, finally, he has an outside shot at making the team. If Mack makes the team, Bowa might keep three catchers and one fewer outfielder, because Mack can play all three outfield positions. And if Bowa does keep three catchers, Parent is in--behind Santiago and Bruce Bochy.

If shortstop Garry Templeton gets injured, there could be an eighth rookie--Gary Green.

"Right now, I'd like to see him (Green) play everyday (at Triple-A)," Bowa said. "(But) I'm a Gary Green fan. If he applies himself, he can play. You've just got to stay on him and prod him."

So at the midway point of spring training, here's how the 24-man roster likely will be on opening day:

First base: Steve Garvey, who went 3 for 3, had an RBI and scored three runs Thursday, will start, with Carmelo Martinez backing him. Steels can play there, too.

Second base: It looks as if Cora will start, which would make Tim Flannery and Randy Ready utility infielders. Bip Roberts appears to be the odd man out.

Shortstop: Templeton, who hit a home run Thursday, will start. Cora could move over from second base to back him, as could Flannery.

Third base: Former Met Kevin Mitchell is batting .350 this spring and will start. Flannery and Ready are his backups.

Catcher: Santiago and Bochy. Maybe Parent, but the odds are he'll be at Triple-A.

Outfield: Tony Gwynn in right, Jefferson in center, Kruk in left. But Martinez will get time in left, as will Mack. Steels will be a fill-in. Marvell Wynne probably is on his way out.

Pitching: The starters will be Andy Hawkins (who gave up 7 hits and 3 runs in 5 innings Thursday), Storm Davis, Eric Show, Ed Whitson and Jimmy Jones. The bullpen will be Dave Dravecky (one hit and no runs in three innings Thursday), Craig Lefferts, Lance McCullers, Goose Gossage (who gave up four runs in the ninth inning Thursday) and either Ed Wojna or Greg Booker as the last pitcher.

Bowa plans to make his first seven or eight cuts Monday, but the final cuts might be made as late as April 5.

The season opens April 6.

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