Klesko trying to hit line drives

Updated: June 17, 2004, 1:53 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Padres slugger Ryan Klesko came off the disabled list on Wednesday, vowing not to let Petco Park get to his head.

Klesko, who has just one homer this season, was activated Wednesday after missing 16 games with a ribcage injury.

He walked three times and scored a run, but was hitless in his return, a 9-6 loss to the Devil Rays.

Klesko has struggled at the plate all season, and is one of the Padres' hitters who got psyched out by Petco Park's spacious dimensions. He hit three fly balls in the home opener on April 8 that probably would have been home runs at the Padres' former home, Qualcomm Stadium.

"I'm not worried about homers. Just driving in runs when they're out there," said Klesko, who was hitting .261 with 22 RBIs when he was hurt.

"I've been working really hard on just hitting line drives. Anything hit in the air here is going to be run down. The ball hangs up here pretty good. If you do hit a good line drive, it's going to go for a home run. That's the main thing. The percentage of driving in runs and getting hits and getting on base is with line drives."

The Padres went into Wednesday night's game against Tampa Bay one game behind NL West leader Los Angeles after losing three straight and five of seven.

Klesko originally hurt himself on April 30 while getting up from pregame stretching, then aggravated the injury when he crashed into the left-field wall at Colorado on May 26, which sent him to the DL.

Instead of going on a rehab assignment in the minors, Klesko went to extended spring training in Arizona.

"The first two days I was seeing 40 to 60 pitches in simulated games," Klesko said. "Where am I going to go to Triple-A and see 40 to 50 pitches? I was taking and getting my timing back. Then on the third and fourth days we actually started playing games.

"I was seeing all kinds of pitches. It was good for me. I was facing guys who just came out of the draft. It was funny."

To make room for Klesko, the Padres optioned outfielder Xavier Nady to Triple-A Portland.

The Padres also placed right-handed reliever Antonio Osuna on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Friday, with a strained right elbow, and recalled right-hander Brian Sweeney from Portland.

Nady, recalled on June 2 when outfielder Brian Buchanan was placed on the 15-day DL, went 0-for-9 with one RBI in four games.

Osuna was 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA. strikeouts. He was on the DL with a strained groin from May 12-31.

Sweeney was recalled by San Diego on May 27 but was optioned back to Portland four days later without having appeared in a game.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press