05/28/08 9:55 PM ET
Baek appreciates shot with Padres
Versatile right-hander acquired via trade with Mariners
By Sandy Burgin / Special to MLB.com
Baek, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on Thursday, got an early present Tuesday night when he was traded from the Mariners to the Padres in exchange for 26-year-old reliever Jared Wells.
"He's solid," Padres manager Bud Black said of Baek. "I saw him when I was with the Angels. He threw some good games against us. I felt as though when he pitched, he had a strong idea of what he wanted to do. He had a four-pitch mix -- fastball, slider, curve and change. ... He's been a strike-thrower in his career with a good delivery, [and he's] fundamentally very sound as a pitcher.
"I think, with his history, he's primarily been a starter," Black said. "But he has the ability to pitch in the bullpen. I think this allows us a little more depth in the rotation, with a guy who has Major League experience as a starter."
Baek appeared in 10 games with the Mariners this season, including one start. He went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA before being designated for assignment on May 21. Born in Pusan, Korea, and originally signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on Sept. 25, 1998, Baek is 10-9 with a 4.96 ERA in 27 Major League games, including 24 starts. He compiled 107 strikeouts and 51 walks in parts of four seasons with Seattle (2004, 2006-08).
"Where we are right now, minus Jake [Peavy] and C.Y. [Chris Young], we're leaning on Wilfredo [Ledezma] and Josh Banks this Saturday," said Black. "Cha Seung Baek gives us the flexibility to have a guy with Major League experience without dipping down into the Minor League system, where all those guys it would be their first time in the big leagues."
In his last outing for Seattle, Baek pitched a clean, crisp and scoreless inning against the Tigers. That was on May 21. The previous day, Baek came on in relief of Carlos Silva in the fourth inning and was hit hard during a two-inning stint, surrendering six hits, including three home runs, and four runs in the Mariners' 12-8 loss.
Prior to that outing, he was working on a streak of four straight scoreless innings over two appearances. But whether he pitched well or poorly, the Mariners lost. They were 0-10 in games in which he appeared.
"I am grateful that a team has given me another chance," said Baek. "I just hope to do my best and help the team.
"I have been a starter most of my career, but this year I've been used in long relief. I'm comfortable as a starter, but I have learned a lot about relieving. Wherever they need me, I'll pitch."
Baek said he's been playing catch the last few days, "waiting for something to happen."
Baek noted that his ERA was high mainly because of that one game against the Tigers. He has pitched against the Padres in Spring Training games the last couple of years.
Black noted that Baek's velocity "sits around 90."
"He's got a good delivery. He's 6-4, 200 pounds," said Black. "I don't have any dates for starts, but we'll see. We want to get him acclimated to the Padres, and run him through some of the things we do fundamentally, and get him in tune with the catchers and get him on the mound."
Black acknowledged the Padres had Baek on their radar back in Spring Training and had him targeted as a possible member of the team down the road.
Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.