Stairs stays busy late in season

Stairs stays busy late in season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Stairs has almost exclusively been used as a pinch-hitter this season, as he's made just 16 starts for the Padres.

Nearly a quarter of those starts have come in the past week.

Entering Sunday, Stairs had gotten the nod in left field in four of the Padres' last 10 games, partly because of a back injury to Will Venable and partly to get an experienced left-handed power bat in the lineup for an offense that has struggled in recent days.

"I think it's just [relying] on the old veteran to try to come through and get the big hits," Stairs said. "The older guys, you don't put so much pressure on yourself, because we've been in the situations where we've failed and succeeded. It's just another game."

Stairs wasn't in Sunday's lineup against left-handed Jonathan Sanchez, though it was a smart bet that he might get an at-bat sometime in Sunday's game.

Stairs has recorded three hits in 10 at-bats in that 10-game span, with his biggest coming Friday, when he tagged Giants starter Matt Cain for a fourth-inning solo home run that was blasted into AT&T Park's standing-room only area in right field and pushed the Padres' lead to 5-0.

"As a pinch-hitter, when you lose your timing, you usually lose it for about three weeks, which is tough," Stairs said. "Then when you get a couple starts, if you find your timing, then it's going to be there for quite a while.

"That carries over with confidence. One good swing, it could be a foul ball, and all of a sudden you find your swing again. I've been streaky my whole career."

Starting is fine with Stairs, though he prefers to come off the bench.

"It's nice getting a start once in a while, but I love coming off the bench and being in that big situation," Stairs said.

No matter what role Stairs has been asked to play, though, he has delivered during the past two months. He's batting .297 (11-for-37) since the beginning of August, with four of those 11 hits being home runs.