Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
One of the few things the movie Bull Durham got wrong about baseball was the nickname. Ballplayers have two nicknames. One nickname your teammates give you, which generally sticks with you throughout your career. The other one your manager gives you, which is entirely different. This is mostly true.
All managers are the same, all of them, in this regard. My name is David, so every manager I ever had as an adult called me Davey. Tom is Tommy, Robert is Robby, and so on. This is also what the press will call you if you're lucky enough to make it that far. This is by design. If your first name doesn't lend itself to an easy nickname, then the manager will use your last name in his simple invention.
Tim Stauffer has a nickname that his teammates call him, and most people will never come to know it. This is also by design. It is an honor among players. If you happen to learn a player's team nickname, you might think twice about calling him by it unless you play on the team. He'll probably just look at you funny.
It's perfectly acceptable to call Tim Stauffer, The Stauf, or just Stauf if you prefer. Manager Bud Black refers to him as Stauf sometimes, perhaps when Timmy sounds a bit silly. The Padres drafted him in 2003, 1st round, 4th pick overall. It got interesting after that.
Most baseball players drafted in the top ten get an agent and go for the bonus money. Stauffer should have been no different. But he was. He was damaged goods at the point of the draft and he didn't have to tell that to the Padres. But he did. He gave back an appropriate amount of his bonus money. Can you imagine that?
And so, the Padres have stuck with The Stauf, through further injuries and difficult times. It's paying off. Stauffer isn't going to dazzle anyone with his stuff, his fastball is okay, breaking stuff breaks, and so on. But what he can now do is to locate, location is everything. Last season, Stauffer was the opening day pitcher. He wound up winning 9 and losing 12 with a 3.73 earned run average, which may not sound like great numbers, but they certainly are great numbers on a team that lost 90 games.
This year, it looks like Tim Stauffer is again likely to be the opening day pitcher. The Stauf Abides.
After a couple of starts in the Cactus league that were less than good, Tim Stauffer was suddenly brilliant. On Wednesday in Glendale, Stauffer became the first Padres starter to stretch out to six innings of work. He struck out two Dodgers batters while scattering just three hits. But the most impressive aspect of his outing was his ability to locate pitches and get hitters to hit a pitch to someone.
Oh, yes, well, there is also the matter of Stauffer's bat singling in the first two Padres runs. It turns out just one of those runs would have been sufficient. Overachiever, The Stauf. Alex Hinshaw, Michael Owings, and Brad Boxberger each pitched a scoreless inning of relief to close out the game.
Offensively, the bats cooled off from recent days. Apart from Stauffer's single, Cameron Maybin hit a double, Jesus Guzman went 2 for 3, with Chris Denorfia, James Darnell, and Everth Cabrera accounting for the rest of the hitting. The Padres beat the Dodgers, 3-0.
Nagging injuries continue. Orlando Hudson, his first game back for a groin strain, left the game in the second inning. With a groin strain. Dude. Seriously. Tighter sliding pants or something. Big history of this injury with Hudson. Kyle Blanks is still day-to-day, but the more days that pass it looks more like a week.
Thursday, the Padres will play split squads. One squad will travel to Tucson to face the Colorado Rockies, where Casey Kelly will get the start. The game in Tucson is a make-up game that was postponed last Sunday. The other squad will stay in Peoria and face the Cleveland Indians. In Peoria, scheduled starter is Cory Luebke, followed by relief from Huston Street, Ernesto Frieri, and Luke Gregerson. Both games will start at 1:05 PM and one of them will be carried on radio 1700 AM. My guess is the game in Peoria.
(Image: The Stauf)