05/23/11 11:16 PM ET
Black: 'Room to talk' on moving PETCO fences
By Mark Thompson / MLB.com
The problem for the Padres is, they aren't quite sure what's causing the offensive deficiency.
On Monday, Bud Black was asked what his stance was on moving in the PETCO Park fences.
"I think there's room for discussion," Black said, choosing his words carefully before taking a long pause and repeating himself. "I just think there's room to talk about it in our park."
Black didn't expand on what he said, but he hasn't been one to typically discuss the park's dimensions, even to that extent.
The topic has been brought up in recent days, however, and mostly avoided. Black doesn't think the park, which is notoriously difficult to hit for power in, has psyched out his players.
Left fielder Ryan Ludwick had some interesting thoughts on the park's dimensions on Saturday.
"I do feel much more comfortable in the box now than I have," Ludwick said. "When I got over here, I was so intimidated by right-center that I felt like I had to swing harder, and it's getting to the point now where I'm going to the plate and not worrying about it. It's the same game, it's just a different ballpark. See ball, hit ball.
"But I am a fly-ball hitter, I've been a fly-ball hitter my whole career so I've hit a lot of balls to the warning track here that might have been bombs other places, but you can't worry about it."
Driving the discussion is the Padres' statistics, which are drastically different at home, in comparison with their road numbers.
The teams' batting average is almost 50 points higher on the road (.252) than it is at home (.203), and the Padres have scored 57 runs in 26 home contests to 99 runs in 21 games on the road.
Black said he would be surprised if the discrepancy in those numbers were as great by the end of the season.
Tekotte on top of the world after first callup
SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't difficult to spot Blake Tekotte in the Padres clubhouse before their 7:05 p.m. game on Monday.
He was the one with the Major League smile.
The Padres selected Tekotte, who turns 24 on Tuesday, from Double-A San Antonio with a corresponding move that optioned Will Venable to Triple-A Tucson.
"It was a surprising call last night at about 11 o'clock," the outfielder said. "We had an early game so I already got back to my apartment after eating with some of the guys and Dougie [Dascenzo, manager] told me that he had something important to tell me, and that I had to pack my bags.
"I asked him what for and he said I was getting on the first flight out to San Diego the next morning. I kinda said, 'What?' And he repeated himself and then it finally kind of set in. It was just an indescribable feeling."
In order to make room on the 40-man roster for Tekotte, the Padres announced they designated right-hander Samuel Deduno for assignment.
Tekotte was batting .291 (43-for-148) in 39 games with San Antonio with 24 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .410. Sixteen of his 43 hits went for extra bases, including six home runs.
Manager Bud Black said the Padres liked Tekotte's ability to defend, among other things.
"We lost an outfielder, so we're going to bring in another outfielder," Black said. "He can play all outfield positions, he can steal the bag. He's a flexible player."
Like Venable, Tekotte is a left-handed batter, which was of huge consideration for the Padres. San Diego had other options in the Minor Leagues in Triple-A. Outfielders Cedric Hunter and Luis Durango seem to also fit what the team was looking for. Hunter is a lefty and Durango is a switch-hitter.
Black said the team looked at them, but in the end, Tekotte was who they wanted.
"Our Minor League people said he was the guy," Black said, adding that general manager Jed Hoyer agreed. "We saw enough of Blake in Spring Training to know what we needed at this point. Right now he fits that bill."
Tekotte follows infielder Logan Forsythe as the second member of the Padres 2008 Draft class to reach the Major Leagues.
Black said outfielder Chris Denorfia would get more starts now, but that Tekotte may get a spot start here and there.
Of interest, Tekotte grew up about an hour and a half from St. Louis, where he grew up watching the Cardinals -- the visiting team at PETCO Park on Monday night.
"That was another bizarre thing about the whole thing, so that's pretty cool," Tekotte said. "All my friends were telling me to take it easy on the Cardinals, and I told them, 'I don't think I can do that.' "
Venable sent down, vows to improve
SAN DIEGO -- Following the Padres' 6-1 loss to the Mariners on Sunday, manager Bud Black hinted that a move might be made soon.
That move was made on Monday.
The Padres optioned right fielder Will Venable to Triple-A Tucson and selected outfielder Blake Tekotte from Double-A San Antonio. To make room for Tekotte on the 40-man roster, the Padres announced they designated right-hander Samuel Deduno for assignment.
Black said Venable took the news "as you would expect he would take it."
"It is what it is right now," Venable said. "But I will say that I'm going to take a day and when I get to where I'm going, I'm going to be working towards the goal of getting my act together, and getting my swing right with the idea that once I get everything right, I'll be back to where I need to be."
Black said Venable's offense was the main reason the team optioned him. Through 40 games this season, he is batting .224 (30-for-134) with an on-base percentage of .293.
"The Minor League environment is probably better than him trying to work through these in a Major League game," Black said.
The Padres had hoped that the 28-year-old Venable would improve on his statistics from 2010, when he hit .245 with 13 home runs, 51 RBIs and 31 extra-base hits as well as a career-best 29 steals in 36 attempts.
In fact, Venable, who is considered a plus right fielder, was one of five players in the National League to hit at least 13 home runs and have 29 stolen bases in 2010. The others were Drew Stubbs (Reds), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), Shane Victorino (Phillies) and Andrew McCutchen (Pirates).
But Venable, like many of the Padres position players, got off to a slow start this season. Venable had one extra-base hit in his first 94 at-bats. He was hitting better in May (.250) than he did in the first month of the season (.205).
"If I knew that, I wouldn't be talking to you guys right now about being sent down," Venable said when asked about what's been different. "I haven't been consistent with my approach. I haven't been consistent with my setup, and that's something I need be better at."
Bell says team meeting was needed, helpful
SAN DIEGO -- Closer Heath Bell said he's heard more complaining on the team so far this season than all of last season, but the Padres' team meeting Sunday evening must have solved that.
"I haven't heard any complaining today," Bell said before Monday's game against the Cardinals. "I think we've just been complaining too much. I think we need to stop complaining and get out and take care of business."
Manager Bud Black said he hasn't been able to pin the recent woes to just one area. The Padres have hit .160 (19-for-119) in their last four games and have committed 39 errors on the season, which was tied for the most in the Major Leagues.
"Yesterday was a meeting after the game to address a few things that were on my mind," Black said. "And we addressed them."
The Major League season is more than a quarter of the way finished, and the Padres are 8 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West. But Bell said that there wasn't a sense of exigency to worry about the standings.
"I don't think it was an urgency, but it was just a reminder that we've lost some games and we have a losing record at home and a winning record on the road," Bell said. "We're still a Major League Baseball team, we just need to go on the other side and beat those guys."
Still, the meeting was significant, and Bell said it was needed.
"Buddy's a man that doesn't call a lot of meetings," Bell said. "I've been here since Buddy has, and he doesn't call a lot of meetings. But when he calls a meeting, you listen, because there's usually a point behind it."
The point behind this one was simple. Catcher Rob Johnson pointed it out Sunday night: "Bring it to the next level," he said.
Mark Thompson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.