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Tired Friars reflect on long night

Tired Friars reflect on long night

PHOENIX -- Since the end of Spring Training, Padres first baseman Tony Clark has been looking forward to returning to his suburban Phoenix home, which would give him time to see his family and even sleep in his own bed.

He only wishes he could have stayed in it longer Friday.

Clark and the rest of the Padres arrived in Phoenix blurry-eyed early on Friday morning, ready for sleep following the longest game in franchise history, a 2-1 loss to the Rockies in 22 innings at PETCO Park.

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Clark arrived at his home in Peoria, Ariz., about the same time the team arrived at its hotel, at 4 a.m. PT after a game that ended at 1:21 a.m. Clark, one of several Padres to play 22 innings, got a momentary glimpse of his wife and children before hitting the sack.

"It was a quick hug and kiss and have a great day at school," Clark said before the Padres opened a three-game series at Chase Field against the first-place Diamondbacks, who had the day off Thursday and, probably more importantly, the entire night.

"I'm sure [Arizona manager] Bob [Melvin] was hoping it would go 40 [innings]," Padres manager Bud Black said, when told Melvin watched through the 18th inning.

Black and the Padres didn't have that luxury, as San Diego used every position player on the roster and all but four pitchers -- Friday's starter Greg Maddux, Cla Meredith, Justin Germano and Chris Young -- in the game that lasted six hours and 16 minutes.

"Games like that, those are great games. I'm disappointed we lost. But that was a great game," Black said. "Both teams played very well and played hard. The outcome wasn't what we wanted."

That's not to say the Padres didn't have a little fun as the game wore on, deeper into the night and, eventually, the morning.

"The guys, once we got to about the 15th, just the energy in the dugout, the morale ... it was sort of like a college environment," Black said. "[Closer Trevor Hoffman] Trev was leading the troops. You might check his voice today. Everyone was in the dugout. It was incredible."

That included dragging out the stuffed head of a ram that used to hang by reliever Scott Linebrink's locker. The team even resorted to bringing out a toy parrot that belongs to right fielder Brian Giles for amusement.

It was all pretty surreal, from the scads of fans who stuck around to the end and to even the Padres themselves.

"The PA announcer kept getting me ... 'Leading off the 19th inning, No. 5, Kevin Kouzmanoff,'" said starting pitcher Jake Peavy, who tossed eight shutout innings.

Things could have certainly been worse for the Padres.

The Rockies, who left Lindbergh Field in San Diego the same time the Padres did, didn't arrive in Houston for the start of their series until 7:20 a.m., though they actually got caught in morning traffic and didn't make it to the team hotel until 8:30 a.m.

The Padres didn't have it quite that bad, though Clark, catcher Josh Bard, Kouzmanoff, shortstop Khalil Greene and Giles played all 22 innings. Giles, Kouzmanoff and Bard each had nine at-bats in the game.

Clark had eight, which represented the exact total of at-bats he had received in the prior 15 games entering Thursday, all as a pinch-hitter, no less. Clark got the start so that Adrian Gonzalez could get the night off.

"I had my season quota in one evening," Clark said. "You take an opportunity when you get a start and try to make a contribution, but you don't think your first start is going to be a 22-inning all-nighter."

Not that the additional innings fazed Bard that much. He's been used to carrying most of the workload behind the plate ever since Michael Barrett went on the disabled list a week ago with a sprained right elbow.

But 22 innings behind the plate, catching seven different pitchers and, by the end of the night, 338 total pitches?

"Obviously, body-wise you feel pretty tired," Bard said. "But we just try to go pitch to pitch. I'm not going to say my mind wasn't as clear in the third as it was in the 35th or whatever. You just got to take it pitch to pitch. It would be one thing if we were up by five or down by five, but when every pitch matters it's a tie score."

Bard was quick to credit the training staff and strength coach Jim Malone for helping him not just get through the game -- Bard was given three servings of applesauce on Thursday and even some pudding for a sugar boost -- but for preparing long before the game to get in condition to handle such a workload.

"Our training staff, I've said this since Day 1, they're the best in baseball," Bard said. "I love those guys because I know they truly care about me and want to see me do well. ... Some people kind of view trainers as they just kind of slap tape on. That's not the case."

As for Friday's game, the Padres had two new faces in the starting lineup, Callix Crabbe at second base and Colt Morton, who got his first Major League start, behind the plate for Bard.

"Just from last night, he needs like eight days off," Morton said of Bard. "He caught like two and a half games. He's a warrior. That just shows his mental toughness, though. He had to be on top of it every single inning."

Before running off to a meeting, Morton was asked how many innings he was prepared to catch on Friday.

"Hopefully we won't have to go 22," Morton said, smiling, "but however many it takes."

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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