"When you haven't been a free agent, it's intriguing, a new experience. It's not something I've been through before. I've always had a contract."
It is not in Giles' nature to make bold declarations regarding his value, but it is believed he'll command upwards of $10 million annually on the open market.There are questions whether the Padres -- with $10 million already committed next season to both Ryan Klesko and Chan Ho Park -- will elect to meet the market price on their best everyday player. Also on the fence are other potential free agents -- third baseman Joe Randa, first basemen Mark Sweeney and Robert Fick, starter Pedro Astacio, middle relievers Rudy Seanez and Chris Hammond and all-purpose reserve Damian Jackson. Team options are held on middle reliever Akinori Otsuka and versatile veteran Eric Young. Randa has said he'll return to his home in Kansas City after the season and forget about baseball for a while before giving any thought to 2006. Sweeney in a pinch: In giving a start to Fick at first base for Game 3, Padres manager Bruce Bochy said it enables him to keep Sweeney available for a prime pinch-hitting opportunity. "It gives us, I think, probably our best pinch-hitter coming off the bench," Bochy said. "We think they're very similar-type players. I just decided to go with Fick, start him. I think overall, he's our best defensive first baseman. "It's very close between the two. I wish I had a better reason besides what I just told you. I think Sweeney is our best guy coming off the bench." Sweeney batted .290 this season as a pinch-hitter with two homers and 12 RBIs. Fick was a .370 hitter in a pinch (10-for-27) with a homer and seven RBIs. Fick batted .500 against the Cards (4-for-8) during the regular season with a homer and two RBIs, and he's 1-for-1 with a walk in the first two games of the NLDS. Sweeney was 5-for-13 (.385) against the Redbirds in the regular season with a homer and seven RBIs, and he was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in the two games in St. Louis. "I'm just happy to get a shot," Fick said. "I don't care how we get it done; we've got to figure out a way to beat these guys and build some momentum. We've done it before, in the regular season, so there's no reason why we can't do it again." The Padres were 4-3 against St. Louis, taking three of four in Busch Stadium in May. Eaton ready if needed: Adam Eaton, the Padres' starter if there's a Game 4, said he found something that had been missing in his mechanics in his last regular-season start, a dominating performance (one hit, 11 strikeouts in seven innings) against the Dodgers. "That's the best I've felt since June," he said, referring to an eight-game winning streak that preceded his June 15 injury to the right middle finger, costing him two months. "I'm confident I'll get a chance to pitch." Eaton's preparation became more focused when he discovered that Jake Peavy's fractured rib would not enable him to pitch in a Game 4.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.