Hairston remains upbeat despite year-long funk
Veteran will likely be non-tendered for 2011 by San Diego
SAN DIEGO -- As he helped to build a team that would win 90 games, first-year Padres general manager Jed Hoyer made a handful of smart and important roster decisions that, seemingly, all paid off during the regular season.
Free-agent pitcher Jon Garland won 14 games and pitched 200 innings. Jerry Hairston Jr., another free-agent signing, might have been the Padres unsung hero for the way he filled in at shortstop and second base.
Yet another free agent, catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who signed on Feb. 9, right before the start of Spring Training, was a valuable addition.
Not every move Hoyer made paid off, though.
In January, Hoyer traded popular third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to the A's so that the Padres could reacquire outfielder Scott Hairston, who offered the promise, and the track record, of a right-handed-hitting outfielder with power.
The Padres sent infielder Eric Sogard to the A's in the deal and received outfielder Aaron Cunningham.
But Hairston never did find his offensive niche in 2010 with the Padres and will likely not be tendered a contract for the 2011 season after hitting .210 with 10 home runs in 104 games.
Hairston went 3-for-37 in the month of August and had only 11 at-bats from the first of September to the end of the regular season.
"I feel that a lot of this year when I was hitting the ball well, it seemed to be getting caught and not finding holes, or I wasn't comfortable at the plate," Hairston said. "Things really didn't go my way a lot of the year.
"If you play this game a long time, you'll have years like that, where things don't go your way and years where everything goes your way."
This was a far cry from Hairston's first stint with the Padres. From 2007 until he was sent to the A's in July of '09, he was a steady performer in the outfield.
He hit 17 home runs on a team that lost 99 games in 2008 and then had 10 home runs and was hitting .299 in '09 at the time he was traded to Oakland for three pitchers.
As the Padres look toward 2011, they'll do so knowing Will Venable will get a lot of playing time in right field, with Ryan Ludwick, acquired from the Cardinals in July, heading to left field from right field.
The team would like to add a center fielder, preferably someone who can get on base and be a table-setter for Adrian Gonzalez and Ludwick.
The future for Hairston isn't quite as clear, though if he has played his last game for the Padres, he'll leave with fond memories.
"I was honored to be a part of the winning season and this organization," Hairston said. "Personally, I would have liked to have played better.
"When I look back on it, I'm going to look back at the winning season we had. It's going to be tough to leave. It's tough saying goodbye to a lot of friends. It seems like things ended too early this year."
One memory Hairston will cherish will be of playing with his brother, Jerry, for the first time professionally.
"It was great. I think each of us had ups and downs throughout the year and it helped me to talk about it with him," Hairston said. "With the struggles I had, it was nice to have Jerry around.
"I'm happy it lasted a whole year. Hopefully we'll do it again. If not, at least we can say we had one year together."