© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/04/06 10:00 PM ET
Non-roster Padres ready if call comes
Contributors to Friars' regular-season success waiting in wings
By Amanda Branam / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- It's never easy for postseason- bound clubs when they're forced to trim players off the roster who helped them get to the playoffs in the first place.
San Diego's dilemma was no different from any other team in that respect, but some of the Padres players who did not make the 25-man roster for the NLDS will still travel with the team to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4. That still gives them a chance to make the NLCS roster, should the Padres advance.
For players like outfielder Ben Johnson, they are doing their best to help the team any way they can.
"I don't think I'd be human if I were happy I didn't make it," said Johnson, who hit .250 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 58 games this season, mostly as the Padres' fourth outfielder. "I'm just going to try and come out and help this team in some way. If that's maybe picking up a pitcher, see if he's tipping his pitches or something, just go about it that way."
For the Padres, the choices were quite difficult, especially when they had to leave five solid pitchers off the roster for the NLDS, which began Tuesday with a 5-1 Friars loss to the Redbirds.
Brian Sweeney, Mike Thompson, Scott Williamson, Jon Adkins, and Scott Cassidy were the odd men out on one of the top pitching staffs in all of baseball. All of them had a hand in helping the Padres finish with an 88-74 regular-season record, which earned San Diego the NL West title.
Thompson was the unofficial sixth starter this season, filling in with 16 starts. Despite a 4.99 ERA, half of Thompson's starts were quality ones. Adkins trailed only lefty specialist Alan Embree, righty Scott Linebrink and closer Trevor Hoffman in appearances this season, taking the mound 55 times. As far as innings go, Sweeney's 56 1/3 frames trailed only Linebrink and Hoffman.
"I stand behind the manager's decision, though it's disappointing," said Sweeney, who finished the regular season with a 2-0 record, 3.20 ERA and two saves. "It's his call, and I'll happily stand behind it.
"It always is a numbers squeeze. If I let stuff affect me that's out of my control, I'd have been out of the game a long time ago. Most importantly, I'm behind this team 100 percent."
In the bullpen, the Padres decided to go with Chan Ho Park, a player who remarkably made his return in the final week of the regular season a month after having surgery to stop internal bleeding and sew up a spot in his lower intestine. He pitched two innings Tuesday, allowing just one hit and a hit batter to reach base.
Veteran Rudy Seanez also made it onto the roster, and he also appeared on Tuesday, pitching a perfect 1 2/3 innings with two strikeouts. The 37-year-old made three previous trips to the postseason, in 1998 and 2001 with the Braves, and in 2005 with the Padres.
"As far as pitching, we decided to go with Chan Ho Park, who can help out long or middle relief, and Rudy Seanez -- two experienced guys," said Padres manager Bruce Bochy. "We have some guys who have done a great job for us all year, but you got to get down to 25. That was the thought behind what we decided to do."
It's no doubt a tough job, not being able to help out one's team on the field at the biggest time of the season. The 25-year-old Johnson said he would continue to come to the ballpark every day as if nothing had changed. Johnson concurred with Sweeney's comments, saying he just wants the team to win.
It must be of comfort to the Padres' coaching staff that the players they have waiting in the wings are more than capable of playoff success. For the time being, those players will watch, and if need be, step into the playoff spotlight.
"We have a great staff. You can go with anybody," Sweeney said. "Adkins, Cassidy, Thompson, we've all done the job. I believe I can speak for them when I say we're behind the team completely. We still have to be ready and prepared in case there's an injury -- please, no injuries. We're going to have to be ready if the call comes."