5 San Diego Padres A snakebitten club short on depth and dough is staggered by the loss of its two stars

March 31, 2003

Rain swept through Peoria, Ariz., on a cool March morning,
delaying the Padres' workout. But the holdup would be brief, for
there was sun on the horizon in every direction, making it seem
as if the rain were falling only on the ball club.

That's a familiar feeling for San Diego. Spring training may be a
time of renewed optimism for most teams, but not for the
Padres--not after back-to-back disheartening camps. In February
2002 outfielder Mike Darr was killed in a one-car accident, only
three weeks after lefthanded reliever Rob Ramsay had undergone
surgery to remove a brain tumor. Ramsay, 29, who missed all of
last season and is still undergoing chemotherapy, gave the team a
lift by making two relief appearances this spring, but a dark
cloud still hovers over the club. Though less tragic, the events
of 2003 have been even more devastating to San Diego's season
outlook.

Closer Trevor Hoffman, who averaged 42 saves over the last seven
seasons, underwent surgery on Feb. 28 to repair his right
shoulder; he won't return until the All-Star break, at the
earliest. The Padres were still reeling from that blow when,
seven days later, leftfielder Phil Nevin, the converted third
baseman who averaged 32 home runs from 1999 through 2001,
dislocated his left shoulder diving for a fly ball in an
exhibition game; he is expected to miss the season. "When we put
him [in leftfield], we figured it would be better for him," says
manager Bruce Bochy, "because he wouldn't be doing the kind of
diving he did at third base."

With owner John Moores claiming losses totaling $100 million
since he bought the team in 1994, including $10 million last
season, the Padres are reluctant to add to their $43 million
payroll, one third of which is going to Hoffman ($9 million) and
Nevin ($4.5 million). In Hoffman's place Bochy has turned to
27-year-old Brandon Villafuerte, who has one career save in 40
relief appearances.

Without Nevin, first baseman Ryan Klesko and centerfielder Mark
Kotsay are the two most dangerous hitters in a lineup that was
14th in the NL in batting (.253) and runs (662). But they won't
see many good pitches to hit unless leftfielder Rondell White,
who was acquired from the Yankees on March 19 in a trade that
sent outfielder Bubba Trammell and minor league pitcher Mark
Phillips to New York, and third baseman Sean Burroughs rebound
from disappointing seasons. After batting over .300 in each of
the four previous seasons, White slumped to a career-low .240 in
2002. The Padres shifted Klesko and Nevin to new positions last
year to make room in the lineup for the highly regarded
Burroughs, but injuries and a 5-for-51 slump sent him back to
Triple A. Though he hit .377 after being recalled last September,
Burroughs showed a disturbing lack of power for a corner
infielder. (He has homered only once in 192 big league at bats.)
Still, the team has great expectations for him. "The kid's
probably got one of the best knacks for taking the pitch deep
into the zone, then putting it in play," says Klesko. "He's like
Tony Gwynn that way."

The starting rotation features several promising arms, including
26-year-old sinkerballer Brian Lawrence, 25-year-old Adam Eaton and
a pair of hard-throwing 21-year-olds, Oliver Perez and Jake Peavy.
But even if the youngsters come through, much of their work could
be undermined by a patchwork bullpen and a shaky defense. Kotsay
covers a lot of ground in center, but the Padres are lacking at
the corner outfield positions, which will be manned by the
weak-armed White and rookie Xavier Nady, a former infielder who
has struggled with shoulder problems.

"We've had some things go wrong for us physically, but we can
still be competitive with the players we have," Bochy says. "I'm
just as optimistic about our chances as I am every spring."
Sounds as if hope springs eternal even for the Padres, but what
they need is a lot of luck. --P.T.

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO RELYIN' ON RYAN While his team hits the skids, Klesko, fresh off a .300 season, continues to thrive. COLOR PHOTO: JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES WRIGHT

IN FACT
The Padres set a major league record by using 37 pitchers last
season, eclipsing the mark of 32 held by the 2000 Indians.

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Padres

"This season could be a disaster. Not many clubs respond well
after losing their closer and cleanup hitter, especially if they
weren't contenders to begin with.... Sean Burroughs has been a
big disappointment. The Padres penciled him in at third, and he's
playing tight. I'm not convinced that there's power in his swing.
I don't believe all the hype.... Ryan Klesko is an offensive
force and a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat. He'll have to
carry a lot of people on his back.... They didn't hurt themselves
with the Rondell White deal. He and Bubba Trammell are comparable
offensively, and White is a slight upgrade defensively. Playing
next to White, though, Mark Kotsay is still going to have to
bring his A game.... The strength of the club is starting
pitching. They have some very good young arms. Brian Lawrence
knows how to pitch, but Oliver Perez may have the most upside of
all these guys. They're talking about using him as a closer, but
I think they need to see how he does as a starter first. He'll go
right at you. The problem is that he tends to overthrow.... Jaret
Wright is a guy with a power arm who should close, but he just
can't maintain his mechanics."

THE LINEUP
projected roster with 2002 statistics

BATTING ORDER

SS Vazquez
2B Loretta
CF Kotsay
1B Klesko
LF White
RF Nady
3B Burroughs
C Bennett

RAMON VAZQUEZ

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L-R 234 .274 2 32 7

MARK LORETTA [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 270 .304 4 27 1

MARK KOTSAY

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L 96 .292 17 61 11

RYAN KLESKO

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L 40 .300 29 95 6

RONDELL WHITE [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 136 .240 14 62 1

XAVIER NADY* (R)

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 186 .283 10 43 0

SEAN BURROUGHS

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L-R 209 .271 1 11 2

GARY BENNETT [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 276 .265 4 26 1

BENCH

BRIAN BUCHANAN**

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

R 337 .269 11 28 2

DAVE HANSEN [#]

B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

L-R 339 .292 2 17 1

ROTATION

PITCHER PVR W L IPS WHIP ERA

RH Brian Lawrence 93 12 12 6.6 1.34 3.69
RH Adam Eaton 167 1 1 5.6 1.35 5.40
LH Oliver Perez 115 4 5 5.9 1.32 3.50
RH Jake Peavy 186 6 7 5.7 1.42 4.52
RH Clay Condrey(R) 235 1 2 6.4 1.05 1.69

BULLPEN

PITCHER PVR W L S WHIP ERA

RH Brandon Villafuerte 102 1 2 1 1.28 1.41
RH Jay Witasick [#] 230 1 0 0 1.16 2.37
LH Jesse Orosco [#] 301 1 2 1 1.33 3.00

[#] New acquisition
(R) Rookie
B-T: Bats-throws
IPS: Innings pitched per start
WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched
*Triple A stats
PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 157)
**Combined AL and NL stats

2002 RECORD

66-96
fifth in NL West

MANAGER

Bruce Bochy
ninth season with San Diego

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)