Padre outfielder Tony Gwynn never has much cared for center field. Right field is where he feels comfortable, and he has won five Gold Gloves in the past six years.
Realizing the Padres are having trouble finding a capable defensive backup for center fielder Darrin Jackson, however, Gwynn has volunteered to play center when Jackson takes a day off.
"I still would rather be in right field, but I'll do anything to win," said Gwynn, who's batting .452 this spring. "The game's all about winning, and if I can help the team best in that position, that's where I'll play. It probably won't be more than 10 games, anyway."
Gwynn never played center field in 1991.
"We know Tony doesn't like playing center," said Padre Manager Greg Riddoch, "but that's how unselfish a player he is."
Reliever Larry Andersen was sitting in a restaurant the other night with his wife when he noticed rookie Dave Staton and his fiancee at another table.
Andersen motioned the waiter over and told him that he'd pick up Staton's tab. He also made one condition. He didn't want Staton to know his identity.
Staton, however, was not fooled. He came into the clubhouse Monday morning, walked over to Andersen's cubicle and said: "I know it was you, and I want to thank you."
Said Andersen, as Staton walked away: "You like to help young guys on the way up. People did it for me, and I want to do it for them. Hopefully, guys will keep up the tradition and remember others on the way up, but I know it doesn't always work that way."
The Padres sent 19 players to their minor-league camp after the game, including 10 from their 40-man roster.
Pitchers Doug Brocail and Frank Seminara, infielder Jose Valentin, and outfielders Will Taylor and Staton were optioned to triple-A Las Vegas. Pitchers Mike Linskey and Rafael Valdez and infielders Ray Holbert, Luis Lopez and Tom Redington were optioned to double-A Wichita.
The nonroster players being returned to the minor-league camp: pitchers Adam Peterson and Tim Scott; catchers Kevin Higgins and Dan Walters; and infielder Scott Coolbaugh. Also, the four mini-camp players who traveled to Phoenix with the Padres will return to the minor-league camp: pitchers A.J. Sager and Tim Worrell; infielder Jay Gainer; and outfielder Matt Mieske.
Pitcher Mark Knudson, who's battling Dave Eiland for the vacancy in the Padre rotation, struggled for the first time this spring in the Padres' 4-0 defeat to the Angels in a "B" game. Knudson yielded three hits two walks and two earned runs in five innings. "This is the first day I really wasn't happy with the way I threw the ball," Knudson said. "High sliders usually don't get people out. It was just one of those days. I mean, I felt well and felt strong, I just didn't throw the ball that well." . . . Andersen struggled in the "B" game, allowing four hits and two earned runs. . . . Padre infielder Craig Shipley returned to the lineup Wednesday for the first time since Saturday when he was hit in the lip during infield practice and received six stitches. He also suffered a sinus infection as a result of the injury. "I'm feeling all right now," he said, "but it's sure taken awhile."