Notes: Park beaming over first child
Righty in better spirits while recovering from intestinal surgery
SAN DIEGO -- Proud papa Chan Ho Park returned to the Padres' clubhouse on Tuesday, carrying a bouquet of flowers and beaming over the arrival of daughter Elynne. His and wife Rie's first child was born on Aug. 29.The blessed event provided "something wonderful," as Park put it, to think about as he recovers from surgery on his lower intestine to stop bleeding that required him to take on 10 units of blood, seven in response to the surgery. "I've learned a lot about blood, how important it is," Park said. "I was lucky. Very lucky." Initially diagnosed with anemia when he complained of abdominal pain and fatigue on July 28 after leaving the team in Denver to return to San Diego, Park spent 15 days on the disabled list. He came back to make two starts and was getting ready for a third against the Dodgers on Aug. 21 at PETCO Park when the bleeding returned. He was hospitalized for diagnosis and treatment, and surgery was required to stop the bleeding from a disorder known as Meckel's diverticulum, which afflicts about 2 percent of the population. Laparoscopic surgery was performed on Aug. 23 at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla -- where his daughter would be born six days later. Park had wanted to pitch through the pain that night, but strong words from teammate Woody Williams helped convince him to ponder the bigger picture -- and his mortality. "Woody called me when I left the hospital and was yelling at me to think about my family, the baby," Park said. "It became a big story in Korea. Over 10,000 people came to my Web site and said Woody saved Chan Ho's life screaming at me." Park could not eat for a week after the surgery, taking food through an IV, and he dropped 14 pounds, going below 200 for the first time since 1995, when he was a young Dodgers pitcher ordering fast food from numbers on the menu. Weighing 212 when he began bleeding in late July, he is at 198. Park is in excellent spirits, judging by his sense of humor. He joked about how all the new blood in his system "might change my hair and skin color -- and maybe give me a better accent." In a more serious vein, he admitted that he had begun to worry about his condition when he learned how much blood he'd lost and that he'd need surgery. "The doctors told me it was difficult to find, but easy to [perform] surgery," Park, 33, said. "If I tried to pitch that [Aug. 21] night, I don't know what would have happened. I might have passed out. Maybe I'd be done for my career if I pitched. "[If] I was young, not married with a baby coming, I probably would have pitched. The baby made me think -- wait a minute. One game's not as important as the future, my family. That's why I was so lucky." An impending free agent who is 7-7 with a 4.68 ERA in 23 games, Park mentioned the long shot possibility of coming back this season and how he'd like to "give the team support," but he realizes, after all he's been through, that his next delivery likely will be made in 2007. Family tradition: Josh Barfield, whose first career walk-off homer, a three-run blast against Colorado's Brian Fuentes that gave San Diego a 7-5 win on Monday night, has some catching up to do. Josh was surprised to hear his father, Jesse, hit five career walk-off homers between 1985-1991. That tied Jesse with six other players for the most during that period. "I thought he hit two -- one off the Brewers and one off the Angels," Josh said. "I was at those games. My dad remembers everything he did." The Barfields were watching at home in Houston, the game luckily carried by the satellite baseball package -- not always the case with Padres games.
"They called me and were all excited," said Josh, who was rewarded with his first appearance in the No. 3 spot in the order on Tuesday night against Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis.Johnson back: Even better than hitting third, Barfield had his best baseball buddy back at his side on Tuesday. Ben Johnson rejoined the club and was in left field, batting fifth, against Francis, with Dave Roberts getting a night off. "I heard all about it when I got here," Johnson said. "Josh has always been a clutch hitter. He just thrives in those situations. He's cool under pressure." Joining the Padres were two of Johnson's teammates at Triple-A Portland, Jack Cust and Paul McAnulty, along with pitcher Mike Thompson, who has made 15 starts as the Padres' emergency starter. Cust batted .293 with 30 homers, 77 RBIs and 143 walks at Portland. McAnulty hit .310 with 19 homers and 79 RBIs, and he spent some time at third base. Both are left-handed options off the bench, along with recently recalled Terrmel Sledge. "All the teams I've been on have had a lot of left-handed hitters," said Cust. "I think I can handle coming off the bench. I've been around long enough now to know how pitchers might approach me." Kottaras deal official: As rumored, catcher George Kottaras, 23, is the player headed to Boston in the David Wells deal, completing the trade made on Aug. 31. Kottaras, a .283 career hitter in the Minor Leagues, homered and doubled in the Futures Game at Pittsburgh during the All-Star break. Kottaras batted .210 in 33 games at Portland with two homers and 17 RBIs after batting .277 at Double-A Mobile with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 77 games. Coming up: Clay Hensley (8-11, 4.05 ERA) faces Rockies ace Jason Jennings (7-12, 3.61 ERA) in Wednesday night's 7:05 PT series finale at PETCO Park, wrapping up the season series between the two clubs.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.