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May 19, 2003
The Padres' strongest hitters on the just-completed 1-6 home stand were the youngest players in the starting lineup – third baseman Sean Burroughs and right fielder Xavier Nady.
Burroughs, 22, had his first three-hit game of the season yesterday to cap a 10-for-24 week that saw his batting average climb from .218 to .256. He also homered in back-to-back games for the first time as a Padre and drove in seven runs.
Nady, 24, was 9-for-24 with a homer, three doubles and three RBI. Over his last 16 games, Nady has gone 22-for-58 (.379) to raise his average from .250 to .297. Nady leads all National League rookies in batting average, hits (47), multihit games (12), outfield assists (five), runs scored (25) and total bases (71). He leads the Padres in runs and hits.
"They're doing a much better job," said batting coach Dave Magadan of Burroughs and Nady, who are sharing a house in Mission Valley this season. "They've been doing a lot of extra work, and it's paying off."
Burroughs said he hasn't been too worried about his slow start this season. "Like I said, it always takes me a little while," he said. "My biggest thing right now is that it's a shame that I'm starting to do better and it's not helping us win some games. I'd trade an 0-for-4 for a win."
The left-handed-hitting Burroughs said he has been doing a better job of driving the ball to left field.
"The first month of the season, I had no hits to left," he said. "That's not me. Now I'm finding some holes. Now I want to use the bat to create some runs."
Burroughs is not surprised that he and Nady have picked it up at the same time.
"We talk about this all the time. We bounce things off each other. I think we're getting ourselves in better position to battle. Now we have to start stepping it up with runners in scoring position." (By Bill Center)
BRIAN HIRO wrote:PEORIA, Ariz. ---- From one day to the next in spring training, it's tough to know what spot X will mark. One morning, the Padres' Xavier Nady might be fielding ground balls at third base and testing his throwing arm. The following afternoon, Nady could be catching those same throws across the diamond at first base. On still another day, he might be seen shagging flies at any of the three outfield positions.
Sure, his head occasionally spins, but Nady is hardly complaining. Playing defensive roulette is part of his preparation for his job as the Padres' super sub in 2005, this after a season spent yo-yoing between the bushes and the big leagues.
"It's a new chapter in my career," Nady said. "I'm excited, whether I come off the bench or get a few starts here and there. It should be fun."
Nady's role for this year came into shape during the latter stages of last season. The Padres have always highly valued Nady, 25, their second-round pick in the 2000 draft and their Opening Day right fielder in '03. But after he terrorized Pacific Coast League pitchers by batting .330 with 22 home runs for Triple-A Portland, the parent club realized it had to create a permanent roster spot for him.
General manager Kevin Towers quickly put the wheels in motion, unloading Terrence Long, the team's best bench player in 2004, to Kansas City in the first trade of the baseball offseason. Meanwhile, Nady, who bounced around the outfield and also played some first for the Beavers, was sent to the Arizona instructional league to relearn third base, his college position at Cal.
"I was taking hundreds of grounders a day," he said. "I started getting that old feel back and becoming more comfortable."
By increasing Nady's versatility, the Padres hope to maximize his number of plate appearances, thus allowing him to reach the hitting potential that made him a two-time All-American for the Golden Bears and the MVP of the California League in 2001.
"He has to realize, more than anything, that he has the ability to play here," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's all between the ears at this point. He has to realize how good he can be."
Realizing he's on the team is a good start. Nady has run out of minor-league options, which means the Padres can't send him down without the risk ---- more like a certainty with a player as talented as Nady ---- of losing him through waivers. So Nady can approach spring training with a relaxed confidence rather than the tension of knowing a roster spot rides on every at-bat.
"It takes a lot of pressure off," Nady said. "I felt last year that I had to do everything to make the team. This year I feel I belong here. I have a whole different attitude, just walking around."
Not that he's leaving anything to chance. Besides his stint in the instructional league, Nady worked tirelessly on his hitting this winter and reported to camp several days early. To continue the refinement, Padres hitting coach Dave Magadan has adopted Nady as his pet project of the spring.
"I think it's pretty common knowledge that he tends to get a little loopy with his swing, long and loopy, and becomes susceptible to pitches up and out of the strike zone," Magadan said. "When he gets too loopy, he has to cheat a little bit, and when you cheat you tend to chase pitches. But it's not anything that can't be corrected with a lot of hard work. With playing time and confidence, the sky is the limit."
Magadan recommended that Nady lower his hands in his batting stance to make his swing more compact, and he's also encouraging his pupil to slow his tempo in the box to avoid a problematic high leg kick. Nady has been a willing student.
"Maybe in the past I created some bad habits," said Nady, who hit .247 in 77 major-league at-bats last year. "I'm trying to work on it every day and hopefully eliminate some of the things that got me into trouble."
."Tom Krasovic wrote:Bochy says X-man making strong bid to start opener
PEORIA, Ariz. March 21, 2005: – Xavier Nady has pushed his way into strong consideration for the start at third base on Opening Day.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy said Xavier Nady's work at third base this spring has been a pleasant surprise.
Manager Bruce Bochy said yesterday that the next two weeks will be crucial. But he said Nady's work at third base has been a pleasant surprise, and that Nady's right-handed bat could be a fit against Rockies left-hander Joe Kennedy on April 4 in Denver.
"I have three left-handed hitters in the outfield," Bochy said. "If Nady does start, it probably would be at third base. If we think he's ready, it'll probably be at third."
Sean Burroughs has started at third base in the past two season openers. The left-hander's .269 batting average against left-handers is 39 points lower than his average against right-handers. In 31 at-bats this month, Burroughs has batted .258 without an extra-base hit. Nady, who hit a two-run home run yesterday against the Diamondbacks, has batted .314 with three home runs and a double.
"We still think a lot of Sean Burroughs," Bochy said. "As the players play, they really dictate how much they will play. They really will write out the lineups – by how they are playing."
Nady, 26, played third base for Cal but hadn't played there professionally until last fall, when the Padres sent him to the instructional league. This month, he's made mental errors, throwing errors and fielding errors – but his actions have impressed Bochy.
"It looks like it's been an easier transition than I thought it would be for him," Bochy said. "Now, he has a ways to go, in fairness to him. The toughest thing is he needs to work in center field, too, because if we get in a situation where (Dave) Roberts is down four or five days, then Nady's our center fielder.
"It's a dilemma for him, because we need to get him ready at two spots."
Last March, Nady appeared too eager at the plate. He often lunged at pitches and hooked them into foul ground. He batted .167, with nine strikeouts and just one walk after 32 chances.
Bochy said Nady is showing far more poise this time around; earlier this month, hitting coach Dave Magadan said the right-hander's swing "looks about a thousand times better than it did last spring."
If Nady is in the lineup Opening Day, Bochy said he would likely bat in the No. 8 spot. He said Nady will continue to work out at third base on days that he doesn't play third in Cactus League games.
"I don't want Nady to go more than two days without getting some work at third," Bochy said.
Nady's calling card is slugging power. His .729 slugging percentage in college broke Mark McGwire's Pacific 10 Conference record. He has a stellar .525 slugging percentage over 378 minor league games.
Burroughs, 24, is the stronger defender and better contact hitter. He has a .345 on-base percentage in 339 major league games, compared with Nady's .301 on-base percentage in 145 games.
"Sean is feeling better than where he was at (early in camp)," Bochy said. "He's been swinging it much better than he was
Amazinz wrote:Do you think Nady is any closer to earning a full-time job?
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