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Struggling Clark Given a Break by McKeon

June 15, 1989|SCOTT MILLER

SAN DIEGO — Padre Manager Jack McKeon gave slumping first baseman Jack Clark a day off Wednesday, one night after a frustrated Clark spoke at length to reporters about his travails this season.

McKeon said he has been thinking of resting Clark since Sunday. But the Padres faced Rick Reuschel that day in San Francisco, and Clark had hit a three-run homer off Reuschel April 18. Then, McKeon said, he was going to rest Clark Tuesday against Cincinnati, but the Padres were facing left-hander Danny Jackson.

"I'll give him a day or two off, I don't know," McKeon said. "Let him get his thoughts together. We did it with Benny (Santiago), and that helped. Sometimes you try like hell and get no results, and sometimes it's better to get away."

Late Tuesday, Clark talked about his troubles this season for 40 minutes with reporters in the Padre clubhouse.

"It might be time to get somebody else out there and get some at-bats," Clark said. "Somebody who might do something. It's not that I'm not trying. I don't like to get booed. I don't like to fail."

Clark also mentioned a trade or even retirement.

"I really need to evaluate the situation," he said. "Money doesn't buy happiness. I know I'm in a great place. But if there's a market for me, maybe they should trade me if there's some value for me. Maybe I'm too comfortable here."

The frustration has been building for Clark. He struck out five times Sunday in San Francisco and in four out of five at-bats Tuesday against Cincinnati. By the end of Tuesday's game, he had struck out 10 times in 11 at-bats and was hitting .217. His nine strikeouts in two games set a major league record.

If Clark continued at his current pace, he would finish with 197 strikeouts, breaking the major league record (189) set by San Francisco's Bobby Bonds in 1970.

The anger has been building.

"The attitude on this team stinks," he told a San Francisco newspaper last weekend. "There are some guys on this team who think they're a lot better than they are. Jack (McKeon) would like to trade them, but nobody wants them."

McKeon and Clark talked on the field for about 10 minutes Wednesday after Clark finished taking early batting practice.

"I told him I want him to relax a bit," McKeon said. "I told him to quit trying to carry the club by hitting home runs. I remember him hitting doubles and singles to beat us a few years ago. I remember him wearing us out.

"I'll tell you one thing, he's a real pro. It's easy to sit in the stands or press box and boo. You've got to admire the guy. He's concerned. I wish some of the guys were as concerned with their performances as he is."

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