Eckstein earns peers' respect in recent poll
Survey of players indicates infielder gets most out of talent
CHICAGO -- A recent poll of 313 Major League players conducted by Sports Illustrated determined that Padres second baseman David Eckstein is the player who gets the most out of his talent.
Eckstein, currently on the disabled list with a right calf strain, earned 25 percent of the votes.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia was second (13 percent). Albert Pujols of the Cardinals (eight), Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Minnesota's Joe Mauer each earned four percent of the vote.
"I would have voted for him, too," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Eckstein, who has found his name atop similar polls and surveys during his career, said "it's nice to be recognized as a player who goes out and plays hard every night."
Eckstein, who stands 5-foot-7, then flashed a smile.
"I do not intimidate anyone," he said.
But he has gained the respect of his peers and his manager.
"You wouldn't get 10 years in the Majors by being scrappy," Black said. "You've got to be a good player."
Black praises Tejada's approach
CHICAGO -- Padres manager Bud Black was asked late Monday about the contributions of shortstop Miguel Tejada, who had four hits, his third consecutive multi-hit game, in a 9-5 victory over the Cubs.
"We've all seen Miggy, he's a professional hitter," Black said. "He really knows his swing. He has a great approach, hits all pitchers and hits all pitching. This guy is a hitter. I think his presence will rub off on a lot of guys."
The Padres are 9-7 in games Tejada has played in. He was acquired on July 29 from the Orioles.
Entering Tuesday's game, Tejada was 9-for-14 in his last three games and was hitting .321 since joining the Padres.
Minor Leaguer Decker earns honor
CHICAGO -- Jeff Decker is certainly making up for a slow start to the season with a fast finish for Class A Lake Elsinore.
Decker, who missed the first 40 games of the regular season with an injured hamstring, was named the California League's Player of the Week after hitting .389 with four home runs, 12 RBIs and eight walks.
Decker, who hit .195 in the first half of the season, is hitting .300 in the second half, and .349 with seven home runs in the month of August. Overall, Decker is hitting .253 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs.
DeWitt not surprised by Padres' rise
CHICAGO -- Blake DeWitt has seen the Padres more than any of the other Cubs players this season, having played them in nine games with the Dodgers before he was traded to Chicago. He's not surprised at their turnaround season.
"The Padres are a tough team," the Cubs' second baseman said Tuesday. "They're doing all the little things right that requires you to win a ballgame. They run the bases hard, they're aggressive on the bases, they go first to third, they advance on balls in the dirt, they come up with timely hits.
"You can't say enough about their pitching and defense, and that's probably the main reason they're in first place," he said.
The Padres finished 75-87 last season -- 17 games back in the National League West. Entering Tuesday's game against the Cubs, they were 70-47 with a four-game lead. They rank first in the NL in pitching, have the third-best defense, but they rank 13th in batting average.
Look at the lineup and there's no Albert Pujols-type leading the team.
"After watching Adrian Gonzalez the last couple years, you rank him right up there with him," DeWitt said of the Padres' first baseman, who was batting .297 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs. "He's a special hitter. He's a good first baseman. Being on the West Coast, sometimes you don't get the recognition the other guys have gotten, but he definitely deserves to be in that category. He's a special player."