Notes: Anniversary of a turnaround

Notes: Anniversary of a turnaround

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres could have gotten together and observed a significant anniversary on Saturday night -- but it would have been a fairly exclusive group reliving the experience.

Only eight members of the current outfit were in uniform exactly one year earlier when the Padres won a game that, by all accounts, turned their season around.

"Hey, that's right -- maybe it's an omen," Dave Roberts said, brightly, reminded of the stirring events of April 29, 2005.

With Jake Peavy on the mound against Arizona, the Padres, reeling emotionally after a 9-13 start, went 15 innings to seize a 5-4 decision after Trevor Hoffman blew Peavy's ninth-inning lead.

It was the start of something big. The Padres went on a binge, winning 23 of the next 29 games to go from 4 1/2 games off the lead, in fourth place when they opened the homestand, to leading the National League West by three games as June dawned.

"We could use another 22-6 run, that's for sure," Roberts said.

Those '05 Padres didn't look much better than the '06 version when they gathered in a quiet clubhouse that April 29 night. But that dramatic victory over the Diamondbacks clearly set something in motion. Hoffman vowed that night not to let his team down like that -- and was successful in his next 38 save opportunities, setting a tone of excellence.

One year later, the restructured Padres no doubt would have loved to see history repeat itself with an emotional win triggering a dramatic turnaround.

Roberts, Hoffman and Peavy would have to give a quick history lesson to 16 teammates who missed out on the magic that began a year ago.

No ordinary start: Sunday is a special day for Chan Ho Park. He's facing the Dodgers, and that always will hold special meaning to the man from South Korea.

It all began in Los Angeles for Park, the first Korean to play in the Major Leagues, in 1994. He still considers his debut -- April 8, against Atlanta -- the biggest moment of his career, even though he gave up two runs in one inning.

Pitching in Dodger Stadium last Sept. 11 for the first time since he left L.A. for Texas as a free agent in 2001, Chan Ho reflected on the meaning of it all. He thought about the tremendous impact owner Peter O'Malley, pitching instructor Burt Hooton and the club had on his life -- but his outing didn't last long.

Park retired only four batters before leaving with control problems, allowing two runs on three hits without a decision. He took a loss later on in the season at PETCO Park against the Dodgers after giving up two runs in 6 1/3 solid innings.

Park has pitched capably in three starts this season since leaving the bullpen, reminding Padres manager Bruce Bochy of the man who averaged 15 wins for the Dodgers from 1997 through 2001. His Texas misfortunes behind him, he has put aside a back ailment and is trying to reestablish himself as a front-line starter in the final year of his contract.

"He's pitching with good confidence," Bochy said. "I think Chan Ho's going to have a nice year. It's like a new beginning. He's put the past behind him. He's been working hard to get back to where he was."

Lineup alteration: Noting that "sometimes change is good for a lineup," Bochy did some rearranging for Saturday night's assignment against Dodgers right-hander Brett Tomko.

Brian Giles moved from his customary No. 3 spot to No. 2, ahead of Mike Cameron and Mark Bellhorn, playing third for Vinny Castilla. Josh Barfield moved down to No. 7, right ahead of catcher Doug Mirabelli. Castilla and Mike Piazza would be back in the lineup on Sunday, Bochy said.

"I hit in different places last year," Giles said. "It's no big deal. We change our lineup a lot." Bochy had 11 men bat second last year, but Giles wasn't one of them. He batted third 67 times, fourth 77 times, fifth 11 times.

"He's getting on base a lot," Bochy said of Giles, whose .408 on-base percentage is easily the best on a club with a dismal .304 team mark through Friday. "When you get in a rut, sometimes you break things up. I'm not saying it's a permanent deal. It's just time to break it up a little, see if we can get a little offense rolling."

Bellhorn came into Saturday's game as the only Padres hitter batting .250 or better at home. The switch-hitter was hitting .333 at PETCO Park with a homer and two RBIs in 12 at-bats.

Facing Tomko, the Padres were batting .200 as a team at PETCO with 34 runs scored in 13 games -- while giving up 73 runs. That pretty well explains the 3-10 home record.

Coming up: Park (1-1, 4.62 ERA) faces Derek Lowe (1-1, 3.77 ERA) in the series finale at 1:05 p.m. PT on Sunday at PETCO Park. Lowe was a deceptive 2-2 against the Padres last season, limiting them to a 1.22 ERA in five games.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.