MLB Insiders: San Diego Padres

Charlie Morton

The Pirates host the San Diego Padres in a four-game series beginning Friday night at PNC Park.

The Padres will try to continue their success at PNC Park on Friday night in the opener of a four-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Padres have won all eight series they've played at the stadium, which opened in 2001. San Diego's last series loss in Pittsburgh came at Three Rivers Stadium from July 28-30, 2000.

Though the Padres lost the only series between the teams this season, dropping two of three in San Diego from April 24-26, they've won 12 of their last 17 games in Pittsburgh.

Tim Stauffer (4-6, 3.31 ERA) will take the mound against the Pirates (55-89) for the first time.

The right-hander has gone 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his last four starts after losing his previous four with a 5.40 ERA. Stauffer yielded one run and three hits with four walks in six innings of a 3-2, 10-inning victory over Colorado on Saturday.

Pirates manager John Russell will give the ball to Charlie Morton (3-8, 5.35), who is looking to avoid a third consecutive loss. However, the right-hander is coming off a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings of a 9-1 defeat at Houston on Friday.

Morton won his only outing against the Padres, giving up one run in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-1 victory July 12, 2008.

Edgar Gonzalez and the Padres got a scare Tuesday night when a fastball thrown by Arizona's Dan Haren sailed up and inside on Gonzalez.

No one questioned Haren's motives.

What concerned the Padres was the fact that the special batting helmet that Gonzalez is using flew off his head as he jumped backward.

The helmet is designed to give Gonzalez more protection. He missed 36 games with a concussion after being beaned by Colorado's Jason Hammel on July 18.

"That can't be good," Gonzalez said of his helmet malfunction. "The problem is that this helmet doesn't fit and it rides too high. My hat size is 7 1/8 and the helmet says for sizes 7 1/4-to-7 3/8. What kind of protective helmet fits several sizes?"

Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson made some changes to the helmet before Wednesday's game. "It was better," Gonzalez said, "but I don't like the feel."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Jeff Kingston, the Padres' director of baseball operations since 2002, has been hired by the Mariners as assistant general manager. Kingston, 32, had spent nine seasons with the Padres. He assisted general manager Kevin Towers and assistant general manager Fred Uhlman Jr.

--The Padres' Class A affiliate at Fort Wayne, Ind., has won its first Midwest League championship. LF Jaff Decker hit a two-run homer to give Fort Wayne a 4-3 victory in Burlington, Iowa, to complete a three-game sweep and finish a 101-win season.

--The 20 smallest crowds in the five-season history of Petco Park have come this season with the respective Wednesday and Tuesday turnouts of 14,377 and 14,717 for Arizona being the second- and fourth-smallest crowds. The smallest turnout in the history of Petco Park was 13,646 for Colorado on May 5. Before this season, the smallest crowd at Petco Park was 18,714 on April 2, 2008.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2-1 -- Padres' record against both the playoff-contending Dodgers and Giants in road series last week.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As a reliever, I understand those things. Those pitches happen." -- Reliever-turned-starter Edward Mujica, commenting on the blown save by Heath Bell that cost the Padres a 1-0 victory over Colorado on Sept. 11.

ROSTER REPORT

--3B Kevin Kouzmanoff took batting practice Tuesday and Wednesday and reported the slight strain of his left calf muscle is much improved. He expects to play during the four-game series in Pittsburgh starting Friday. Kouzmanoff has been sidelined since Sept. 8.

--RF Brian Giles hasn't given up on his return this season, but the Padres are strongly hinting that it won't happen. The knee that forced Giles to the disabled list on June 18 is still not giving him a full range of motion. Giles, a free agent at the end of the season, has a .191 average this year.

--1B Adrian Gonzalez hit the first pinch-hit homer of his career with two out in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday to send the Padres' game against Arizona into extra innings. Oddly, Gonzalez was pinch-hitting for his brother Edgar. "He would have done the same thing," joked Gonzalez, whose 38th homer tied Nate Colbert (twice) for the fourth-highest single-season total in Padres history.

MEDICAL WATCH:

2B David Eckstein (stiff neck) did not play Sept. 14-15. He pinch-hit Sept. 16.

RF Will Venable (flu-like symptoms) was scratched from the lineup Sept. 15. He pinch-hit Sept. 16.

3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (strained left calf) left the Sept. 8 game, and he didn't play Sept. 9-16. He expects to return during the Sept. 18-21 series at Pittsburgh.

RHP Mike Adams (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 22. He is expected to be activated Sept. 18.

RHP Greg Burke (sore right shoulder) hasn't pitched since Aug. 30. He is expected to be available Sept. 18.

OF Brian Giles (bruised right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 19, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. He would like to return this season, but it was looking unlikely as of Sept. 17.

OF Kyle Blanks (plantar fasciitis in right foot) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 29. He is likely out for the season.

RHP Chris Young (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 15, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. He's out for the season.

RHP Cha Seung Baek (strained right forearm) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 15. He threw a bullpen session April 21. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Lake Elsinore on April 28 but had a setback May 10 because of a separate strain in the same forearm. He started a new rehab assignment July 8 with Class AAA Portland but was shut down for the season in late July with continued forearm trouble.

OF Cliff Floyd (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to June 18. He had season-ending surgery June 24.

RHP Shawn Hill (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list April 25, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 16. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery June 24.

RHP Mark Worrell (Tommy John elbow surgery in March 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list April 2, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 5. He is out for the season.

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