Padres general manager Kevin Towers doesn't usually receive
telephone calls from his players in the off-season, but this
winter Ken Caminiti, Tony Gwynn and Wally Joyner all phoned
Towers and lobbied for him to re-sign free-agent leftfielder
Greg Vaughn. The urgency of the campaign was surprising,
considering that Vaughn played only 43 games for San Diego at
the end of last season and hit just .206, including a measly
.125 with runners in scoring position.

"When Greg came here, he felt so much pressure to be the big
bopper that he dug himself into a deep hole," Gwynn says of
Vaughn's July 31 arrival in a trade with the Brewers. "But we
all liked his attitude, and we wanted to see the damage he could
do for us over a full season."

Vaughn, who hit .280 with 31 homers and 95 RBIs in 102 games for
Milwaukee before he was dealt to the Padres for outfielder Marc
Newfield and pitchers Ron Villone and Bryce Florie, actually won
over third baseman Caminiti a few weeks before the trade.
Caminiti was sitting alone on a bus waiting to be driven back to
the hotel after an All-Star Game workout when Vaughn approached
and introduced himself, and the two became fast friends. So when
Vaughn went to San Diego, Caminiti offered to let him sleep at
his house for the rest of the season. "We lived in the same
place, we ate together, we lifted weights together, we went to
the ballpark together," says the 31-year-old Vaughn with a
sheepish grin. "Some people started asking questions."

The pair are inseparable in the Padres' lineup as well, with
Caminiti batting cleanup and Vaughn in the fifth spot. At the
time of the trade, Caminiti had endured 11 straight games
without a home run, but he promptly cracked three homers in the
first two games after Vaughn arrived. Caminiti then won the
National League Player of the Month award in August and
September, hitting .359 with 23 homers and 61 RBIs in those two
months on his way to the league MVP award. No wonder he offered
Vaughn room and board. "It's no secret that when Greg came here,
my numbers shot through the roof," Caminiti says. "I think
pitchers started looking at the on-deck circle, and they didn't
want to walk me to pitch to him because he can hit home runs by
accident."

Towers believes that Vaughn's positive influence flows
throughout the lineup, so he heeded the wishes of his players
and signed Vaughn to a three-year, $15 million contract in
January. Vaughn, who had a career-high 41 home runs and 117 RBIs
overall last season, hit 10 homers in just 141 at bats with San
Diego, placing him third on the team despite his anemic average.
And this season he will no longer have to rotate in leftfield
with Rickey Henderson, whom the Padres are hoping to trade.
"Last season with the Padres felt a lot like spring training
because I didn't play every day and I had never seen most of the
pitchers I was facing," says Vaughn, explaining his feeble
production after the trade. "I don't like to predict how many
home runs or RBIs I might have this season. Let's just say that
I have some unfinished business in the National League."

--T.C.

B/W PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER READ MILLER GREG VAUGHN Powerful Reasons to Keep Him

THE LINEUP

2B Quilvio Veras
Replaces best leadoff hitter of all time, Rickey Henderson

RF Tony Gwynn
Won seventh batting crown (.353) in '96

CF Steve Finley
Last year's 30 homers topped previous career high by 19

3B Ken Caminiti
Hit league-leading 28 HRs after All-Star break

LF Greg Vaughn
Batted .302 before July 1, .210 after

1B Wally Joyner
Hit .407 in April, no higher than .288 any other month

C John Flaherty
Had a 27-game hitting streak after June trade from Tigers

SS Chris Gomez
Batted .303 with runners in scoring
position last season

Ace Joey Hamilton
Anchored staff with career-high 15 wins in '96

Closer Trevor Hoffman
League's fireman of the year with 42 saves last season

STAT FACT

Last season the Padres' bullpen had the best ERA (3.30) and the
lowest opponents' batting average (.212) of any relief corps in
the majors. In the last 20 years only three bullpens have held
opposing hitters to a lower average over one season: the Tigers'
in 1981 (.210) and the A's in '89 (.203) and '90 (.210). Since
1977 the only National League bullpen other than San Diego's to
hold opponents below .220 was the '83 Astros' (.217).

STAT FACTS BY ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)