05/08/2013 8:34 PM ET
Happ's injury brings back memories for Padres coach
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- The most successful season in Willie Blair's 12-year Major League pitching career was also the most trying.
On his way to winning 16 games for the Tigers in 1997, Blair -- now in his first season as bullpen coach for the Padres -- suffered a concussion and a broken jaw after he was hit by a line drive after making a pitch in a game against the Indians.
"It brings back memories," Blair said Wednesday after watching replays of Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ being hit by a line drive on Tuesday.
"It looks like he was almost hit in the same place I was."
Blair was making his seventh start of the 1997 season and was in the process of throwing a gem, as he took a four-hit shutout into the sixth inning, when Julio Franco came to the plate.
"We had a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, had two outs and I got behind him," Blair said. "I'm not going to walk him. The count goes 3-1 and then he fouls off six, seven balls. So I thought, 'Here's another heater,' … I throw a fastball away, maybe up just a tad. As soon as he hit it, I knew it was going to hit me."
The ball struck Blair just below his right ear, near the top of his jaw.
"The ball hit me and went back to the catcher [Pat Borders]. That's how hard it hit me. I remember him getting there and the panic in his voice. I couldn't say anything for a couple of seconds," Blair said.
Blair was eventually taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion and non-displaced fracture of his jaw, meaning he didn't have to have his mouth wired shut. He was fine with that, as he knew that would keep him off the mound longer.
Blair was initially told he would miss between six and eight weeks, but he recovered quickly and made two Minor League rehabilitation starts before returning to the big leagues to pitch in a game on June 3.
Blair was asked after the fact if the incident made him skittish at all about pitching again. He shook his head.
"No, this was just a freak play. People ask me all the time if I was apprehensive. I wasn't," he said. "I had been hit by line drives before then and actually hit three more times after that. I realized that 99 percent of the time you're able to deflect it, where it's not that big of a deal. This one got me."
Blair went 1-2 with two no-decisions in five starts in June before winning all six of his starts in July, as he went on to finish 16-8 with a 4.17 ERA.
Richard getting work in while on disabled list
SAN DIEGO -- Left-hander Clayton Richard is still bothered by an intestinal virus that sent him to the 15-day disabled list earlier this week, but he's not letting it get in the way of his work.
Richard threw a long toss session before Wednesday's game against the Marlins and then threw in the bullpen.
"I feel better that I'm able to get my work in," Richard said. "But we don't want this thing to go the other way."
Richard has been troubled for nearly three weeks by an intestinal virus that caused him to miss a start in San Francisco on April 20 and then dogged him in three starts he made thereafter, when he went 0-3 with a 13.09 ERA.
Richard has had medical tests done this week as the team goes about trying to find answers for what is ailing him, and why he hasn't been able to kick the virus by now, one that initially caused him to lose 12 pounds.
"[The doctors] think there's an underlying issue in my digestive tract," Richard said.
Richard is scheduled to have a colonoscopy on Friday in San Diego, though he'll join the team during its three-game series against the Rays that starts that same day in Florida.
"He will throw over the weekend and we'll determine where he's at physically," said Padres manager Bud Black.
Maybin still week to 10 days away from hitting
SAN DIEGO -- Center fielder Cameron Maybin, on the disabled list since April 17, remains a week to 10 days away from being able to hit.
Maybin, who suffered an impingement to his right wrist last month, hasn't ruled out having surgery on the wrist, which has troubled him the last two seasons. Maybin is hopeful that if he did have surgery, it wouldn't be necessary until after the season.
"The true test is when he gets in the cage," Padres manager Bud Black said. "From what I've gathered, surgery is not a cure-all for what he has. The best course of action is to let nature take its course."
Maybin initially wore a splint around his wrist, but he's been out of that for over a week. He's been able to take part in conditioning drills as well as playing catch but hasn't tested the wrist by taking batting practice as of yet."
Prospect Smith to start on Saturday
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres will dip into their pitching-rich farm system on Saturday when they add right-hander Burch Smith, who'll make his first Major League start that same night at Tropicana Field against the Rays.
The 23-year-old Smith, the Padres' No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB.com, was 1-2 with a 1.15 ERA over his first six starts with Double-A San Antonio.
The Padres will announce a corresponding roster move on Friday or Saturday.
Smith was selected in the 14th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He was 9-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 26 starts last season in the hitter-friendly California League.
This spring, he allowed 17 hits in 31 1/3 innings with six walks and 37 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .155 against him. He has been clocked at 100 mph this season.
"One of the many things that stands out about Burch is he is a power pitcher with control," said Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development and international scouting. "His stuff produces high strikeouts with low walks and hits. He has an explosive fastball, that will reach the upper 90s and will ride it up in the zone and sink it down in the zone. Burch will pitch with purpose and can get outs at the top and bottom of the zone."
Andrew Cashner was originally scheduled to start Saturday's game but he's been pushed back to Tuesday. He is fine, but the Padres wanted to break up him and Smith in the rotation as both are hard-throwing right-handers. This also allows the team to keep Cashner's innings down.
"He's got a big arm and a good, sound delivery," said Padres manager Bud Black about Smith. "He's thrown very well this season in Double-A. Our front office thinks very highly of this guy."
Michelle Jenkins named honorary bat girl
SAN DIEGO -- Michelle Jenkins, a Padres fan and cancer survivor, was named one of the winners of Major League Baseball's Honorary Bat Girl contest on Wednesday.
The contest honors women who have survived breast cancer and have become advocates for finding a cure for the disease.
Jenkins, who is from San Marcos, was diagnosed at 38, which is before the recommended age for an initial mammogram. She credits a routine breast exam for diagnosing cancer.
Jenkins participates in the Susan G. Komen 3-day walk, including right after completing chemotherapy. In fact, her team name for the walk each year is called "Save 2nd Base" because she and her family love baseball.
Honorary Bat Girls will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and will receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. Since the Padres are on the road, Jenkins will be honored on May 18 at Petco Park.
With the assistance of several player judges, MLB selected an Honorary Bat Girl from each of the 30 clubs. Players and on-field personnel will also show their support for breast cancer awareness by sporting pink wristbands -- and in some cases, using pink bats -- on Mother's Day.