SAN DIEGO — Baseball tradition dictates that you can never have enough left-handed pitchers. Traditionally, baseball tradition has never tried to find a seat in the Padres' bullpen.
But Monday, the Padres picked up their third left-handed reliever in two months, announcing that Oakland's Dave Leiper will join the team today as one of the two "players to be named" in the deal that sent pitcher Storm Davis to the A's Sunday. Leiper will join lefties Mark Davis and Keith Comstock in the bullpen. The Padres also have a left-handed starter, Eric Nolte.
The other player the Padres will acquire in this trade is still unknown, but sources say that he is not a pitcher and he is currently playing for the A's Triple-A team in Tacoma. The Tacoma club will begin the Pacific Coast League playoffs later this week, so the player might not join the club until the middle of September.
Leading candidates are left-handed hitting catcher Jerry Willard (.291, six home runs in 213 at-bats) and second baseman Thad Reece (.277). The Padres covet a left-handed backup to Benito Santiago and can't get enough middle infielders.
The key to the Davis deal will be Leiper, a 25-year-old who has been with the A's during his entire six-year pro career but has yet to spend an entire summer in the big leagues. He came close this season, starting in Tacoma but going up to Oakland April 24 and remaining there. He comes with a 2-1 record, one save, and a 3.78 earned-run average in 45 games. He recorded 33 strikeouts and 18 walks in 52 innings.
More important, he comes with a split-fingered fastball that is particularly effective on left-handed hitters. He will assume the same role as Comstock, who has struggled lately. In Comstock's last two outings, he has allowed five runs in 1 innings. After working in 12 of 26 games in one stretch, he has appeared in only two of the last 10.
"I remember Leiper from the PCL last year," Padre Manager Larry Bowa said. "He throws strikes, he gets the ball down. He's really tough on the left-handers."
Said Jack McKeon, Padre general manager: "We've been talking about getting him since last year. I don't know where he's going to fit in this year, but Larry will find a place. You know how I like left-handers."