06/17/08 11:27 PM ET
Padres held off the board in opener
Wolf's short outing, three errors prove costly against Yanks
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Whatever you call it, the Padres have it and can't seem to shake it. Not this season where the disabled list has been anything but a remote outpost. And certainly not this week, not with the slew of strange injuries that have popped up.
So the fact that third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was scratched before Tuesday's 8-0 loss to the Yankees before a crowd of 52,306 at Yankee Stadium after suffering back spasms during infield drills shouldn't merit any surprise to anyone.
"We've been hit pretty hard," conceded Padres manager Bud Black following the game.
That might be putting it lightly, as the Padres (31-41) have seen outfielders Brian Giles (sore left shoulder), Paul McAnulty (back strain) and Scott Hairston (hyperextended left elbow) miss playing time in the past three games alone.
Now add Kouzmanoff, who ranks second on the team to Adrian Gonzalez in home runs (10) and RBIs (33), to the list of players felled by injury. Kouzmanoff, who missed five games with a similar injury earlier in the season, won't likely play Wednesday.
"We don't know the degree [of the injury] quite yet," Black said. "It could be day-to-day, it could be longer. It's just one of those freak things that happens."
Newcomer Chase Headley will likely start in place of Kouzmanoff at third base during the second game of a three-game series against the Yankees (38-33). Headley, who was added to the roster on Tuesday, had two of the Padres' seven hits in the opener.
Even a healthy Kouzmanoff might not have been enough to derail the Yankees and left-hander Andy Pettitte (7-5), who had his cutter dancing in the tepid air Tuesday, enough so that he had nine of New York's 14 strikeouts over his seven innings.
That the Padres made three errors -- two by Craig Stansberry, who played second base instead of Edgar Gonzalez, who filled in for Kouzmanoff at third -- and even had a baserunner picked off certainly didn't help.
At the polar opposite of where Pettitte was Tuesday was where you would find Padres starter Randy Wolf (5-5), who told reporters afterwards: "I was awful today. I can count on one hand the number of pitches that I executed today."
Wolf, who was coming off a blissful run that saw him allow two or fewer runs in his past five starts, allowed a home run to Alex Rodriguez to start the second inning. Two batters later, Jason Giambi turned on a 2-1 curveball, sending it just over the wall in right field.
Two innings later, Wolf -- who had allowed seven home runs in his previous 14 starts this season -- was victimized again by the long ball, when, after walking Hideki Matsui, the lefty allowed a second home run to Giambi, who centered a 93-mph fastball, sending it into the Yankees' bullpen.
Wolf struggled with his fastball command early, which is, for him, and just about anyone else, the foundation for successful pitching. There have been starts this season when the left-hander's stuff and command have improved as the game has worn on.
But not Tuesday.
"When you can't throw your fastball where you want, it's going to be a tough day," Wolf said.
As for Headley, regarded as San Diego's top Minor League prospect, he thought his first game back in the Major Leagues since last season was filled with "good and bad things."
Headley made an error in left field when Bobby Abreu's double down the line took a weird carom off the base of the wall. Headley fielded everything else hit to him and saw a fair amount of pitches, which was his goal early in the game.
He cleanly fielded Derek Jeter's RBI single in the eighth inning, but his throw home was just up the first-base line as another run scored. He struck out looking in his first at-bat and singled in the fifth and seventh innings, with both hits coming from the right-hand side.
Headley, a switch-hitter who was hitting .321 batting left-handed, hadn't hit in a game since Friday, when Triple-A Portland was in Fresno. He then took a flight on Saturday to join the team in Cleveland.
"I wanted to see some pitches because I hadn't hit in three or so days," Headley said. "It was a good night to get back out there and get used to the atmosphere."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.