Notes: Giles takes step forward

Notes: Giles takes step forward

CHICAGO -- There was an obvious spring in Brian Giles' step, literally and figuratively, when the Padres outfielder arrived at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

Giles, who hasn't appeared in a game since May 19, because of a nagging bone bruise in his right knee, was encouraged by his running session in the outfield Friday and by how he felt Saturday morning.

"It was great. I was able to backpedal, whereas five days ago, I couldn't," Giles said. "It's made a lot of progress in five days. It feels like it's turning the corner a little bit."

Giles' ability to backpedal on his knee without pain is a critical movement if he's to come off the disabled list, just as much as how his knee feels the day after making such taxing movements on it.

But when Saturday morning arrived, Giles' knee felt strong.

"Today was a good sign. ... All the stuff I did on it yesterday," Giles said. "Today feels good. That's encouraging to not have any pain after everything I did yesterday."

There's still no timetable as to when Giles could return, and it's almost certain that he'll need to get some at-bats on a rehabilitation assignment with one of the Padres' Minor League teams before returning to San Diego.

But this weekend was clearly a step in the right direction.

"It's bone, and your bone only heals so fast," Giles said. "Not being able to put a timetable on it is frustrating. But hopefully, it will only be days now."

The Soriano strut? San Diego pitcher David Wells said Saturday that he hadn't looked at videotape from his start Friday to see if Chicago's Alfonso Soriano celebrated his sixth-inning home run more than he needed to.

There was some talk after Friday's loss to the Cubs that Soriano might have admired his home run, a long shot that carried over the seats in left field and onto Waveland Avenue.

"I don't like people to show me up," Wells said. "Respect the game. I take offense when people stare. I don't show hitters up. I respect the game and the players. I hope he didn't do it."

Manager Bud Black indicated that he got a look at Soriano's home run from both the dugout and later on videotape, but wouldn't say one way or the other if he thought the Cubs outfielder was guilty of excessive celebration.

"I have no thoughts on it," Black said. "Some things are better left unsaid."

First day reflections: Rookie third baseman Chase Headley didn't handle a ball in the field and went 0-for-3 in his Major League debut in Friday's 4-1 loss to the Cubs, though that didn't take the shine off a day that Headley said he'll never forget.

"It was everything I expected," said Headley, 23. "I walked out and opened my eyes and realized where I was. ... It was a dream come true. But once the game started, it was just another game. I didn't get too stressed out about it. I was happy not getting too anxious."

Black paid Headley the ultimate compliment, saying that he looked "like he belonged."

"I thought he swung the bat well. Hit the ball well his first at-bat, almost got an opposite-field hit in his second at-bat," Black said. "He looked comfortable ... looked like he was seeing the ball well."

Friar notes: Pitcher Clay Hensley, who started the season with the Padres and is now with Triple-A Portland, allowed three runs on seven hits over five innings Friday in the Beavers' 4-3 victory over Salt Lake. Hensley struck out five and walked two. He's 2-2 with a 6.10 ERA for Portland. "He's continuing to make his starts," Black said. "I didn't hear the report, but from looking at the pitching line, it looks like a nice game." ... Catcher Josh Bard wasn't in the lineup Saturday, as he was feeling ill. Marcus Giles, who missed Friday's game after also not feeling well, was back in the lineup on Saturday. ... In order to get as many left-handed bats in the lineup as possible against Chicago pitcher Carlos Zambrano, Black gave Russell Branyan his second start of the season in left field. ... Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, who strained his lower back Thursday against Tampa Bay, missed his second consecutive game, though Black indicated that he was "doing better." Still, Kouzmanoff's availability was in question. "We're just hoping that he makes strides over the next couple of days," Black said. "Hopefully, we'll have this thing resolved in the next couple of days." ... Terrmel Sledge got his first start of the season in right field, and Mike Cameron got a scheduled day off, with Hiram Bocachica getting the start in center.

On deck: The Padres conclude their three-game series against the Cubs at 11:20 a.m. PT on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Greg Maddux (5-3, 3.86 ERA) will get the start for the Friars. He'll be opposed by Rich Hill (5-4, 2.81). The Padres are off on Monday before opening a three-game series on Tuesday against Baltimore at PETCO Park.

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