Tag:Brian Giles
Posted on: July 6, 2009 8:17 pm
 

Black, Padres talking extension

While Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro announced the other day that manager Eric Wedge definitely will be retained through the rest of this season (Wedge is signed through 2010), another manager is close to landing some security of his own.

San Diego and manager Bud Black, whose deal expires after the 2009 season, are having ongoing conversations about a contract extension, and the two sides are hoping to reach an agreement sometime this month. There are still significant details to be worked out, such as length of the extension and salary. But there is desire on both sides to get it done, leading to the current optimism that it will get done.

"They should," veteran outfielder Brian Giles said. "We've got a lot of young guys, and that comes with a lot of growing pains. I think he's done a good job with the team they've put together."

The economically downsizing Padres weren't expected to contend this season. But they've played far better than expected following last year's 101-loss disaster. And handed a roster far more versatile than last summer's slow-footed, non-athletic group, Black has been able to expand his managing chops.

"I've seen him grow as a manager," said Padres closer Heath Bell who, like Black, arrived in San Diego in 2007. "He's gotten a little better with strategy each year. I've seen him do a little more each year."

Bell especially complimented Black's style of privately asking veterans for input at times and keeping them apprised of what he's thinking. Padres management was especially impressed when the normally low-key Black blistered his team following a sloppy, 0-6 trip through Houston and Chicago in May.

Following that, the Padres responded with a season-high 10-game winning streak and won 12 of 15.

"I think it would be good for the organization," if Black is retained, Bell said. "I think it would be pretty positive."

Likes: Eric Wedge mostly is getting killed by Cleveland fans right now. But I will say this: Whether he eventually stays or goes, it is nice to see an organization (and by that, I mean general manager Mark Shapiro, especially) take some of the responsibility for what's gone wrong instead of simply blaming it all on the manager. Fans love to see skippers get the ax, and often it's warranted. But it's rarely that simple. ... Very classy move by the Chicago White Sox in dedicating a memorial at U.S. Cellular Field to the late, legendary baseball writer Jerome Holtzman. The case, in the lobby area of the park, even includes a cigar among the typewriter and assorted other artifacts from the career of Holtzman, who passed away a year ago this month. ... Netflix the two-disc DVD from the old Johnny Cash Show and, if you like music, you will not be disappointed. It's a greatest-hits sort of collection from Cash's old television show that ran in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and among the guests are the Creedence Clearwater Revival (you sure don't get a chance to see them perform every day), a very young Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong (he seems like he was a very sweet man), a very young James Taylor, Glen Campbell, Kris Kristofferson, Derek and the Dominos, Ray Charles and many, many more. Very enjoyable. And I didn't realize how eclectic that show was back in the day when it came to various musical styles.

Dislikes: Really, really bad news: Sean Penn is out of The Three Stooges movie. Awwww.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long
"Caught somewhere between a boy and man
"She was seventeen and she was far from in-between
"It was summertime in Northern Michigan
"Splashing through the sand bar
"Talking by the campfire
"It's the simple things in life, like when and where
"We didn't have no internet
"But man I never will forget
"The way the moonlight shined upon her hair"

-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long

 

Posted on: June 2, 2009 12:06 am
 

On Khalil Greene, St. Louis and San Diego

With Khalil Greene fighting to save his career in St. Louis, some of his ex-teammates say that the social-anxiety disorder that appears to be devouring him was evident only in very small doses when he played in San Diego.

"Maybe it was evident here and there but, in my opinion, no more than any other player," Padres starter Chris Young said Monday. "That doesn't mean it hasn't been eating him up inside."

Greene, batting .200 with seven errors, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Cardinals on Friday with stress-related issues that have only worsened during his first year in St. Louis.

Joe Strauss, in Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, writes "Greene's condition causes incessant anxiety based on a fear of failure that feeds his self-consciousness. Unable to channel his emotions, the resulting frustration makes him prone to physical and verbal outbursts in front of teammates. ... The self-punishment and the screams from within the dugout tunnel brought him only passing relief while jarring those around him."

"We all saw bits and pieces of that when he was here," Padres ace Jake Peavy said. "Khalil was a great teammate and is a great friend. He's as talented as anybody I've ever played with. The guy hit (27) home runs two years ago, and he's as good as any player I've ever seen play shortstop."

Greene, 29, always has been a streaky hitter but still knocked out four seasons ranging from fairly productive to exceptional with the Padres between 2004 and 2008. He peaked in '07, when he slammed 27 homers and collected 97 RBI. He also committed only 11 errors in 690 total chances that summer.

He never could get untracked in 2008, however, and the frustration boiled over when he suffered a broken left hand while slamming an equipment trunk in late July. He finished with the lowest batting average of his career, .213, and eight errors in 443 total chances.

"That thing that happened last year can happen to anybody in this game," Padres outfielder Brian Giles said of Greene's broken hand. "It happens. That's what makes this game so unique. It's a game of failure. And it's all about trying to control the mental side of failing."

Always exceptionally quiet, Greene, whose long, blonde hair reminded many of the surfer character Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was a fan favorite early in his career in San Diego. By the time he was traded to St. Louis last winter, though, he seemed more misunderstood than anything.

"He's so quiet," Giles said. "You feel for him. Baseball is just a game. It's just a piece of your life. He's such a good guy. You hope he can find a way to deal with it and get back on the field.

"I feel for him. I'll probably give him a call. The guys that played here with him, we've got his back."

Said Young: "Khalil is a great guy and and I hate to see him going through this. Every player comes up the tunnel every now and then and lets off steam. I didn't see Khalil doing that more than anybody else.

"I've had some of my best conversations in baseball with him, just sitting in the sauna or clubhouse, about life in general. He's an extremely smart guy. I wish him the best."

Things went especially sour for Greene with the Padres when the club late last season attempted to dock him two months' salary for the time he missed in August and September because his injury was self-induced. The club has filed a grievance attempting to recoup up to $1.47 million in salary. A hearing is expected to be held sometime in August when the Cardinals and Padres play (so that officials from the Padres and Greene can attend).

"I just hope those guys over there support him and are good teammates," Peavy said of the Cardinals. "I think we all would love for him to get past this thing so that the game of baseball can get the Khalil that everyone knows back."

Likes: Hitting streaks. What a hoot it would be to see someone seriously chasing Joe DiMaggio's record 56-gamer. Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki jacked his up to 25 games Monday night. But you know what? They all seem to die right around the 30-game mark. ... The excitement Matt Wieters has brought to Baltimore. ... Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown rocks. ... Henry Poole Is Here is very quirky, very interesting and worth renting. ... The Girlfriend Experience? It's OK, but I wouldn't rush out to see it. Interesting concept. Could have been painful if it didn't get the job done in a Greg Maddux-like 77 minutes. ... Kemo Sabe, an Asian-Southwestern-fusion restaurant in San Diego's Hillcrest area. The blackened jerk chicken with plantains over the weekend was tremendous, as was my wife's Ahi tuna/calamari/salmon sampler dish.

Dislikes: Khalil Greene is a good dude, and I hope the Cardinals are patient and helpful with him and that the poor guy figures things out. ... Cleveland's Grady Sizemore and Texas' Josh Hamilton on the sidelines. The game is better when they're in the lineup. ... The Mets' J.J. Putz in the eighth inning. It seemed like a no-brainer. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Back in the days of shock and awe
"We came to liberate them all
"History was the cruel judge of overconfidence
"Back in the days of shock and awe"

-- Neil Young, Shock and Awe

Posted on: April 26, 2008 1:28 am
 

Look out, here comes the Big Unit

Brandon Webb is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA, Micah Owings is 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA and Dan Haren is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA. The Arizona Diamondbacks, with baseball's best record (17-6), already have that invincible look, that this-is-the-year feeling.

And if Randy Johnson continues his slow, steady ascent, there's no telling how high these Snakes can go.

Johnson still didn't look like his old, dominant self in his third start of 2008 Friday night, but nobody expects him to -- and he doesn't need to be that guy, anyway. In limiting the punchless San Diego Padres to a run and three hits over six innings in a 5-1 whipping, Johnson evened his record at 1-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.70.

These are solid numbers for any starting pitcher.

For a 44-year-old on a team simply looking for a consistent No. 3 or 4 starter?

Exquisite.

Johnson doesn't go 97, 98 m.p.h. like he once did, but following two back surgeries in two years, he's got enough and he's getting better. Arizona manager Bob Melvin noted one 96 m.p.h. fastball Friday, one at 95 and several at 94.

"His velocity picked up considerably," Melvin said. The skipper noted that the Big Unit's location was better, his split-finger fastball was improved and he consistently pounded the strike zone with his inside fastball as well.

"I feel like I'm getting where I want to be," Johnson said. "I'm still not happy -- I'm walking too many people (two Friday; nine in his three starts), but it's a step in the right direction."

Johnson came back tentatively against San Francisco on April 14, throwing 90 pitches over five innings, walking four and striking out seven in a no-decision. The Giants thought he looked OK, but not much more.

Johnson was marginally better six days later, throwing 104 pitches over 5 2/3 innings in a 9-4 loss Sunday, walking three and striking out seven. Though he surrendered six runs, only four were earned, and he held the Padres to one run through five innings.

Friday night? Six innings, longest outing of the season, and it took him only 94 pitches. Granted, the Padres are less dangerous than a neutered kitten right now, but Johnson pretty much kept it in cruise control. And, he sacrifice bunted in the third, singled up the middle in the fourth, sprung off of the mound in the fifth to make a play on Scott Hairston's weak chopper toward third ... in other words, he played the game.

"That was a heck of a play," Melvin said of fielding Hairston's ball. "I was thinking to myself, 'Don't even try that.'"

He did, though, despite the fact that in a very limited spring training, he did very little fielding work and not much hitting, either.

He spoke afterward of needing to make sure everything he does is constructive, done for a purpose. He doesn't need to be Rickey Henderson on the bases, he said, noting a play last year in which he slid into third base.

"My back wasn't the same after that," said Johnson, who was not able to pitch after June last year.

"There are going to have to be times when I may have to miss a start," he said while plotting for continued strength and the stamina and health to make it all the way to the finish line this year. "I don't want to, but that's the way it is."

If Johnson misses a start here or there in exchange for pitching fairly regularly for the rest of the season, it's a bargain the Diamondbacks will gladly strike.

----

While Johnson was good, San Diego's lineup right now is terrible. The Padres have managed only six runs in their past 62 innings in Petco Park, and they now have not homered in their past 86 innings at Petco. Their last homer at home came way back on April 4, when Brian Giles slammed one in the sixth inning of a game with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ouch.

Likes: Tampa Bay, four-game winning streak and 12 wins matching their most ever after their first 23 games. ... Washington outfielder Elijah Dukes spending several hours cleaning cages and mopping at a Tampa, Fla.-area zoo in the past week as part of a deal to shorten his probation from a drug charge. ... San Diego's Brian Giles having Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London played for his at-bats at home on the nights Randy Wolf starts. ... Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery giving two thumbs up to the Mudcrutch show at San Francisco's Fillmore Theater last week. Mudcrutch? Looking forward to the new disc coming out next week from the group, which is the reformation of an old Florida band and Tom Petty's current side project. And Petty is playing bass. ... Tina Fey on David Letterman the other night. ... Tyler Hansborough staying at North Carolina for his senior season. ... Friday Night Lights returning for another season next year.

Dislikes: Shark attack off the coast of Solana Beach, a small community north of San Diego. I know a guy who knows the guy who was killed, and it's a sad, sad tale. ... The truck crashing into the train station in Chicago on Friday, killing two. Man, what an ugly day. ... Friends' reviews on Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Thought it looked like a solid flick from the previews a few weeks ago. Couple of friends saw it and now it'll be a rental.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And all the girls walk by
"Dressed up for each other"

-- Van Morrison, Wild Night


 
 
 
 
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