Only one homer during Giants series

Updated: April 12, 2004, 11:40 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Imagine the relief of San Diego Padres pitchers when they discovered that their new downtown ballpark was Barry Bonds-proof.

And imagine the grumpiness of Padres sluggers Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko when they discovered the same thing applied to them.

Bonds didn't hit a home run in the first three games at Petco Park during the weekend, and some of that had to do with the Padres pitching him carefully. But Nevin and Klesko didn't go deep, either, and they've got 78 more games to play this season in their $458 million ballpark.

So far, Petco is playing as big as its power alleys, which are 402 feet in left and 411 in right.

"It's odd when you have only one home run in San Diego, period," Bonds said Sunday night after the Giants rallied to beat the Padres 6-3 to avoid a three-game sweep. "Even they hit home runs against us. I think Klesko probably would have had four in this series."

Bonds, who hit his 660th homer Monday in San Francisco to tie godfather Willie Mays for third place all-time, should know. He hit 39 homers at the Padres' old home, Qualcomm Stadium, his most at any road ballpark and the most by any visiting player. Overall, he's hit 75 homers against the Padres, his most against any team.

The only homer in the series was by San Francisco's Marquis Grissom in Thursday night's opener, a 4-3 Padres win in 10 innings. Balls that would have been homers at Qualcomm are falling in for doubles or are being caught at Petco, which is two blocks off the waterfront.

"Throughout the year there's going to be balls crushed on both sides, but they're going to be shaking their heads," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

Nevin and Klesko did plenty of that over the weekend, then realized they can't let their frustrations get into their heads.

Nevin was clearly peeved Saturday night when his drive to right field hit off the fence for a double.

"That's definitely out at Qualcomm," Nevin said a day later. "I'll be honest, there's not a park in baseball I would have even thought twice about it not being a homer. I've never hit a ball that good and have it not go out, I know that."

Klesko wasn't happy, either, with balls that didn't clear the fences.

"He hit one, I looked at him and I heard some noises from him as he was running down the line," Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

"In this park, just throw it down the middle and let them hit it and let the guys in the outfield run it down," Pierzynski suggested.

Bonds lifted a fly ball to deep left field Sunday night off rookie reliever Jason Szuminski, but Terrence Long caught it just in front of the warning track.

Giants manager Felipe Alou was asked if he thought it was gone.

"Not here, no," Alou said. "Not at night. The other ballpark, yes."

On Thursday night, center fielder Jay Payton leaped at the fence to catch a drive by Bonds.

"The balls are dying out there," Bonds said. "They probably have to be more frustrated than we are. They hit balls a lot harder in the new ballpark than we did, and their balls didn't go anywhere."

Because of the vast gaps, "It's just an odd field. Really odd," said Bonds, the Giants' left fielder.

Maybe things will change when the weather heats up. Until then, Padres general manager Kevin Towers wants his sluggers to accept the park for what it is by getting extra swings because of the small foul territory and base hits because of the deep gaps.

"We can score runs without hitting home runs," Towers said.

In Saturday night's 6-4 win, Nevin tied his career high with four hits and scored three times. Klesko drove in two runs and had one of San Diego's five doubles.

On Sunday night, Brian Giles hit a two-run triple and then scored on a throwing error, giving San Diego a 3-0 lead that the bullpen later blew.

"We should have zero complaints," said Towers, who likes the buzz the downtown park has created among fans. "As long as we win here in this ballpark and feed off the energy of the fans and find ways to win games, then we definitely have home-field advantage."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press