YUMA, Ariz. — With a notable haircut, ailment and absence, the Padres practiced as a full team for the first time Wednesday, when position players joined the pitchers and catchers.
The only absence was newly acquired outfielder Keith Moreland, who phoned Manager Larry Bowa Tuesday night and said he needed to clean up some personal business--the selling of his Chicago house--and would be in as soon as possible. By virtue of the players' association agreement, players can't be forced into spring camp until March 1, so theoretically Moreland can take until Tuesday.
"I'm sure he'll be here as soon as he can," said Bowa.
The notable ailment belonged to shortstop Garry Templeton and first baseman John Kruk. Both reported different forms of the flu that settled in different parts of their body.
The illness has caused an infectious lump in Templeton's left leg, forcing him to run with a slight limp. The illness has taken away much of Kruk's voice, forcing him to whisper.
Not coincidentally, they were the last two Padres to complete the first of Bowa's daily two-mile runs around the Ray Kroc Complex.
"I was impressed, because neither of them had to run," said Bowa.
"Might as well," said Templeton, the team captain. "Didn't just want to just stand around."
Now for the strange haircut. Remember rookie outfielder Shawn Abner? Remember how he came to the big leagues from Class AAA last September with three stripes cut into the side of his head, and a wisp of hair hanging down in back like a tail?
Wednesday, he showed up with most of that hair gone. All that's left is one strip across the top of his head. Ever seen a patch of grass in front of a medium-priced town home? His head looks like that.
Call the haircut a cross between that of a punk rocker and a Marine. Meet G.I. Joe Vicious.
"I must be a terrible baseball player," said Abner. "All anybody is asking me about is my haircut."
Bowa shrugged: "He can wear it any way he wants. If he feels comfortable being bald, hey, that's all right."
Abner, facing long odds of making this club anyway, figured this way, he might get noticed.
"I change my hair every year," he said. "This is just what I decided for this year."
It wouldn't be so bad except that his barber is another young outfielder, Shane Mack, who cut Abner's hair while the two were finishing their stint in the winter Puerto Rican League.
"You'd be surprised. It took me awhile to get it like that," said Mack. "I had to keep running the razor over and over and over. Now I feel like I could cut hair in the Army."
Army would be a good way to describe the way the Padres looked in Wednesday. If this first workout is any indication, the Padres will be practicing long (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), hard (long runs before and after practice), and seriously (no laughing, Bowa barking out orders).
"I told you we would work," said Bowa. "I told you we would run."
The day ended with those weary players who were assigned extra work asking Bowa if they could at least change out of their uniforms and into their T-shirts before going back on to the field.
Bowa thought a second, and relented.
"As long as they're wearing pants," said the general. "We've got to have our baseball pants on."
Bad Planning of the Day: The first pitcher to throw batting practice to Dickie Thon was right-handed submariner Todd Simmons.
"I looked up and said, 'Oh no,' " said Bowa of Thon, who is attempting a comeback from a bad 1984 beaning. "I was willing to change, but Dickie said no, he didn't want any special treatment."
The text of Bowa's first clubhouse speech, as remembered by Bowa:
"I told them that last year they showed people all over that they could play with anybody. I told them there wasn't any reason we couldn't get more consistency this season. I told them I was happy with the way they had progressed, but disappointed with the way they finished, and that all we could get was better."
Bowa has not formally met with any players one-on-one yet, and doesn't plan to.
"By now, most of them know me, and I know them," said Bowa. "If a guy just wants to know what his role is, it's too early for that."
The camp's first real competition, the two-mile run, was won by rookie pitcher Greg Harris, last year's Class AA pitcher who has been doing just about everything right so far. Bowa has already complimented his arm. Now Bowa was complimenting everything.
"He is going to be in the big leagues. It's just a matter of time," said Bowa. "He and Candy Sierra are two kids who are going to be pushing people.
"I just wish Harris was 24, 25, 26 years old."
One problem here. Harris is 24.
The biggest news of the run was that reliever Lance McCullers, who is not paid for his speed, finished a close third, behind Harris and Joey Cora.
"It wasn't a race; it was just a run," said McCullers, who reported to camp 15 pounds lighter than last year at 203. "I didn't see any bragging rights in it. I've been running all winter, and I just went out and ran today. If I have any extra stamina, I just hope it keeps up to the start of the season."
Manager Larry Bowa plans to use few regulars in Sunday's first game, a charity match with the club's minor league mini-camp all-stars. "I think they are charging money, so I'll get a couple of the guys in there, but mostly I'll go with guys who have played winter ball, and young guys." . . . Bowa said that of all the first-day swings, Carmelo Martinez's was among the best. "He said that?" said Martinez. "I'm just up there swinging at everything."