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Notes: Meredith ponders 'What if?'

Notes: Meredith ponders 'What if?'

SAN DIEGO -- Had things been different this weekend, Cla Meredith could have very easily have been sitting in the visiting team's dugout at PETCO Park.

Meredith, the Padres reliever, spent parts of three seasons in Boston's organization before he was traded to San Diego on May 1, 2006, with catcher Josh Bard for Doug Mirabelli.

"I always hoped that I was going to play at Fenway Park some day," said Meredith, a sixth-round pick by the Red Sox in 2004 out of Virginia Commonwealth. "But I'm very happy in San Diego."

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That's because the trade to the Padres allowed Meredith to stick in the Major Leagues. He went 5-1 with a 1.07 ERA in 45 games after the trade, including a stretch when he didn't allow a run over 28 consecutive appearances.

"It was huge," Meredith said of the trade. "It pretty much changed my life and changed my career. Every day that I'm over here, it makes it that much more worthwhile, and it makes me appreciate it that much more."

Meredith is uncertain how things would have ended up for him with the Red Sox. He did appear in three games in 2005, allowing seven runs in 2 1/3 innings before he was sent back to the Minor Leagues.

"It's a totally different organization," Meredith said. "My buddy [pitcher] Manny Delcarmen, as good as stuff as he has, he was up with them pretty much all of last year and then found himself back in [Triple-A] Pawtucket. The same thing could have happened to me had I not got the opportunity to come here to San Diego."

A different look: With leadoff hitter Marcus Giles getting the day off on Sunday, Padres manager Bud Black juggled his starting lineup a little bit.

Black stuck Jose Cruz Jr. at the top of the order, the third time he's hit in the leadoff spot this season. Then came a bit of a surprise: catcher Michael Barrett was hitting second in the lineup behind Cruz.

"With Marcus out of there, Cruzer moves up one," Black said. "We've said this all year, with the exception of [first baseman] Adrian [Gonzalez], who is a pure hitter, we don't have a prototypical leadoff hitter or a prototypical cleanup hitter.

"With Michael hitting second, he hits the ball the other way very well. He's puts the bat on the ball, we can hit-and-run with him and he has seen [Boston pitcher Josh] Beckett before. I like him at the top of the order. I like him getting maybe getting up four or five times in a game."

Geoff Blum replaced Giles in the starting lineup and was hitting eighth in the order. It was Blum's fourth start at second base this season.

The other way: Bard's sixth-inning home run off Boston's knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in Saturday's 6-1 victory over the Red Sox was interesting for several reasons.

First, it was Bard's inability to catch Wakefield's knuckleball at the start of last season that essentially got him traded to the Padres along with Meredith for Mirabelli.

Also, Bard, who is a switch-hitter, faced the right-handed Wakefield from the right side of the plate. Normally, when facing a righty, Bard would hit left-handed.

"I had only faced him one time in 2002," Bard said. "And it was a time, too, I was swinging the bat pretty good left-handed, and he really gave me a tough time. So I was thinking, 'Why not give it a shot right-handed,' and thankfully, it worked out."

More Bard: Bard refused to draw any comparisons between his near-miss home run on May 31 against the Pirates that led to his ejection and his home run on Saturday that was originally ruled a foul ball by third-base umpire Brian Knight.

"They worked hard to get the call right in Pittsburgh, and they worked hard to get the call here and they got them both right," Bard said. "So it's an emotional game; we're going out there to compete, but those guys are trying to do their job and get the call right."

In the game against the Pirates, Bard was originally awarded a home run, though the call was overturned after the umpires convened and agreed that the ball glanced off a rail at PNC Park that was in fair play.

Bard bolted from the dugout after the call was overturned and made contact with umpire Ed Rapuano and was ejected from the game. Bard earned a three-day suspension that he appealed.

Friar notes: The Padres have signed outfielders Kellen Kulbacki and Brad Chalk, two players who were selected in the First-Year Player Draft earlier in June. Kulbacki was selected with the 40th overall pick of the Draft out of James Madison University. Chalk, the 87th overall pick (second round), played at Clemson University. ... Pitcher Mat Latos, an 11th-round pick in the 2006 Draft who didn't sign until just before this year's Draft, made his professional debut on Saturday with short-season Class A Eugene of the Northwest League, allowing two runs in 2 1/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. ... Pitcher Matt Bush, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 Draft, appears to be making a smooth transition from shortstop to pitcher. Bush, who is learning his new trade while with the Padres in the Arizona League, struck out two in a scoreless inning of work on Friday, throwing between 94-98 mph. ... Outfielder Brian Giles will report to Class A Lake Elsinore for a rehabilitation assignment on Monday. Giles will play in the field on Monday and Wednesday and will serve as the team's designated hitter on Tuesday before, in all likelihood, he's activated from the disabled list in time for the start of Friday's three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Giles has been on the DL since May 26 with a bone bruise in his right knee.

On deck: The Padres open a three-game series against the Giants at 7:15 p.m. PT on Monday at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Rookie Justin Germano (5-1, 2.63 ERA) gets the start for the Padres. He'll be opposed by Tim Lincecum (2-2, 5.88), the Giants' first-round pick in 2006.

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

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