Brad Wilkerson and Vicente Padilla were introduced to the press today. Here’s a picture from the press conference, which I did not hear, unfortunately. Didn’t even know there was going to be one. Oh well.
Anyway, on the subject of uniform numbers which I’m so keen on.. Padilla was wearing 44, which was his number in Philly. As I said before, that was worn at the end of the season here by Jason Botts, so that’s no surprise.
Brad Wilkerson was wearing 6, which was Gerald Laird’s number for the last two years. I don’t know if it will stay that way. Wilkerson wore 7 in Montreal/Washington, and that’s already taken by DeRosa, so it isn’t much of a surprise that he got bumped to 6. Don’t know what Laird will be wearing if indeed Wilkerson goes into sping training with 6. 5 was worn by Ian Kinsler in 2005’s spring trainign, so that could be open. We’ll see.
UPDATE: There’s now an article on the Rangers site with reactions from the press conference by Wilkerson & Padilla. Check it out.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Brad Wilkerson likes his new opportunity to be a leadoff hitter in the American League, especially in the Texas Rangers’ hitter-friendly home.
And here’s a twist. Vicente Padilla looks forward to pitching in Arlington after spending two seasons in Philadelphia.
“I’ll be comfortable throwing what I like to throw here,” Padilla said through a translator. “Over there, sometimes I was scared to throw the fastball. A fly ball was a home run. Right here, I’m going to do much better.”
Wilkerson and Padilla, acquired by the Rangers in separate trades over the past week, were introduced by the Rangers on Tuesday after passing their physicals.
Spurned in their pursuit of Matt Morris and Josh Beckett this offseason and by so many other pitchers in the past, the Rangers were glad to find a starter from outside the organization who wants to be with them.
“He’s coming from probably the most hitter-friendly park outside of Colorado, so this is an upgrade,” manager Buck Showalter said.
In a June start against the Rangers in Philadelphia, Padilla gave up four runs on four hits, three of them homers. He still won the game.
Padilla came from the Phillies on Monday for a player to be named. Philadelphia has a list of minor league players to chose from by next week, though Texas general manager Jon Daniels wouldn’t give names.
The Rangers traded All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals last week for outfielders Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga. The deal wasn’t formally announced until Tuesday, after Wilkerson passed his physical. Sledge and Galarraga are playing winter ball.
Daniels said Wilkerson’s hard-nosed style could evoke comparisons to former Rangers outfielder Rusty Greer, a longtime fan favorite and a key part of the team’s only three division titles, in the late 1990s.
“Montreal compared me to Rusty Greer when I was drafted,” said Wilkerson, the 33rd overall pick in the 1998 amateur draft. “If I can do half as much as he did around here, it’s going to be very special.”
Wilkerson is a .256 career hitter with 83 home runs and 265 RBIs over five seasons, all with the Montreal/Washington franchise. He hit .248 with 42 doubles, 11 homers, 57 RBIs and 84 walks in 148 games last season.
“If I do end up hitting leadoff here, I think it’s going to be a positive,” Wilkerson said. “With an everyday player hitting before me, it will give me more opportunities with guys on base to drive in runs.”
Padilla was 9-12 with a 4.71 ERA in 27 starts last season in Philadelphia. He was traded July 26, 2000, from Arizona to the Phillies along with three other players for pitcher Curt Schilling. Padilla made $3.2 million last year and is eligible for salary arbitration.
Showalter was Arizona’s manager when the Nicaraguan had a 3.35 ERA in 35 games as a reliever in 1999 and 2000. Showalter didn’t want to give up Padilla in the Schilling deal.
“He’s a tough competitor and doesn’t back off,” Showalter said.
Padilla was an All-Star in 2002, when he was 14-11 with a 3.28 ERA, and he went 14-12 with a 3.62 ERA the following year. He is just 16-19 the past two seasons, missing 2 1/2 months in 2004 and starting last season on the disabled list because of right elbow tendinitis.
The 28-year-old right-hander was 5-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break last season, the best indication to the Rangers that he is healthy.
“The life was back in his fastball, the velocity was back, the breaking ball was there,” Daniels said. “He looked like a healthy pitcher.”
Padilla goes into a rotation with Chris Young, Kameron Loe and Juan Dominguez, all rookies last season. Daniels said the Rangers still are in the market to find another starter, either through free agency or another trade.