Notes: Joyner plans no major changes

Notes: Joyner plans no major changes

CINCINNATI -- On his first day on the job as the Padres' new hitting coach, Wally Joyner gathered the team's hitters for a meeting and told them not to expect any radical changes.

"I told them we are not going to change anything," Joyner said. "My hope is that we can continue what Merv [Rettenmund] has already done and what they have established. It's nothing we're changing. They're a great group of guys who want to work and get better."

Joyner was officially hired on July 31 when the Padres dismissed Rettenmund. His first day on the job was two days later.

Joyner spent the first few days watching his hitters intently and working with them in the batting cages located beneath PETCO Park. But Joyner, who had a career .289 average in parts of 16 Major Leagues seasons, is hardly a stranger to the Padres.

Joyner -- who played three seasons with the Padres from 1996-99 -- served as the team's Minor League hitting instructor in 2003 and as a special instructor during Spring Training from 2004-07. Joyner also spent one season as an assistant to general manager Kevin Towers in 2002.

"The good thing is I've been here for about five straight years in Spring Training," Joyner said. "The Padres have brought me in as a special coach. So I had some relationships with the hitters. I know who they are and they know me."

All agree that it's far too early to know what Joyner's impact has been on the offense, as the Padres have had games where they have scored 11 and 12 runs and games where the offense has been mostly absent.

"I understand it's August, that it's hot. I'm not a magic guy. I don't have the keys. I think I just have to be honest with everyone," Joyner said. "I think the guys are very excitable. They should be proud of what they've accomplished this year. I want to continue their thoughts and feelings and help them get to where they want to be."

Rob Mackowiak, who joined the Padres from the White Sox on July 31, is trying to soak in as much as he can from Joyner, as are many of the other hitters.

"He was a great hitter and I've been watching him play for years," Mackowiak said. "... He hasn't been out of the game that many years. He hasn't forgot what it's like to hit.

"I hope that I can pick up some things from him. It never can hurt taking in knowledge from guys who have played in the big leagues as long as he has."

Manager Bud Black, who was a first-year pitching coach with the Angels in 2001, the last season Joyner played for the Angels, feels that his new hitting coach will make a positive impact on an offense that has ranked last in the Major League in team batting average for most of the season.

"I think Wally's personality is such where these guys are going to enjoy his personality," Black said. "He comes with a lot of credibility and knowledge. He's had some great hitting coaches in his day. He's going to bring continuity that even from the things Merv taught, Wally is on board with a lot of that.

"In a sense, he's recently removed as a player. I think it is a big deal. I think the players in this day and age, there's a curiosity to them and a credibility factor that's needed."

A piece of history: It's a fairly safe bet that the Padres were probably unaware they were sharing the same clubhouse with baseball royalty Saturday when Pete Laforest arrived from Salt Lake City, where Triple-A Portland was playing.

On Wednesday, Laforest set a new Pacific Coast League record with his fifth grand slam of the season against Memphis. Laforest hit two home runs in the game, giving him 29 for the season.

"I never thought that would happen," Laforest said. "I just had so many chances, it just happened that way. It was unbelievable."

Laforest, who was with the Padres earlier this season, was hitting .230 with the Beavers, though his power numbers spiked after being returned to Portland in May.

"I felt comfortable [at the plate]," he said. "I made a bunch of adjustments through the season."

Laforest was talking about changes at the plate, though he underwent one in the field as well, as he played over 30 games at third base.

"I came up as a third baseman, so I figured that I might as well add it back to the resume," Laforest said. "We had so many injuries, so I started playing every day at third. There was a streak of about two and half weeks where I didn't catch."

Giles' struggles: While older brother Brian Giles continues to flourish at the top of the order -- he has three home runs in his last two games and is hitting .294 -- Marcus Giles continues to struggle.

After going hitless in three at-bats on Saturday, Marcus Giles has one hit in his last 28 at-bats and is hitting just .100 since the All-Star break.

"There's obviously some frustration on his part," Black said. "He's a great competitor. This is probably the biggest funk he's ever been in, but to his credit, he's held his head high, worked his butt off, stayed positive, done everything he could to work out of it."

If you take away Giles' 32 hits that he had in April, he has just 53 since then. He's hitting .187 since May 1. Giles signed a $3.75 million deal in the offseason. The Padres hold a club option on him for 2008.

Friar notes: Black said outfielder Milton Bradley was available for pinch-hitting duty Sunday. Bradley -- who has one plate appearance since Aug. 3 because of a strained right hamstring -- is still feeling residual soreness from an aggressive agility workout on Friday. There's a chance he could be in the lineup on Tuesday against Colorado. ... Wil Ledezma, who started Friday's game against the Reds but lasted only 2 1/3 innings, was available for relief work on Sunday. It hasn't been determined if Ledezma will make his next start on Thursday. The Padres might opt to give that start to righty Clay Hensley. ... Morgan Ensberg and Mackowiak were in the lineup on Sunday against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. ... The Padres' game Sunday was the last of playing on 13 consecutive days. San Diego is just 13-16 since the All-Star break.

On deck: The Padres are off Monday but open a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at PETCO Park against the Colorado Rockies. Greg Maddux (7-9, 4.15) takes the mound for San Diego. Colorado will counter with Jeff Francis (13-5, 4.06).

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