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Padres part ways with Edmonds

Padres part ways with Edmonds

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres decided to sever ties with center fielder Jim Edmonds on Friday, releasing the eight-time Gold Glove Award winner after he struggled mightily offensively and defensively during the first month of the season.

"He wasn't performing to the level we were accustomed to seeing him," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "If we were 10, 12 games over .500, we probably could have ridden this out a little longer."

But at 12-23 this season, coming off a 2-7 road trip and with Edmonds hitting .178 with 24 strikeouts in 90 at-bats, the Padres felt they needed to make a move on Friday to help the team, which is why they jettisoned Edmonds and recalled outfielder Jody Gerut from Triple-A Portland.

Edmonds had just six hits in his last 55 at-bats. He wasn't in the starting lineup Thursday in Atlanta, but did appear in the game as part of a double-switch. He was 0-for-1 with a groundout in his final at-bat as a Padre.

Towers and Padres manager Bud Black broke the news to Edmonds on Friday morning.

"He apologized to us for not performing to the level he was accustomed to," Towers said. "We assured him it wasn't just Jim Edmonds. He was not the only reason this club was struggling. Here's a guy who has had an incredible career as a player."

Parting with Edmonds means the Padres are still on the hook for nearly $4.7 million on his 2008 contract. The Cardinals, who traded Edmonds to San Diego in December for Minor League infielder David Freese, agreed to take on $2 million of his salary.

Financially, it was a move the Padres didn't want to make. But on the field, releasing Edmonds made sense.

The Padres will use Gerut -- who was hitting .308 with five home runs an 18 RBIs in 27 games for Portland -- was in the starting lineup in center field for Friday's game against the Rockies. The Padres will also use Scott Hairston on occasion in center field.

Edmonds didn't get the same type of jumps on fly balls with the Padres he did earlier in his career, though the team doesn't think that was because of the strained right calf that he suffered in Spring Training.

"Missing the time we did in Spring Training, we needed to give him a month to six weeks to see how he came back from the calf injury," Towers said.

Edmonds suffered the strain in a Cactus League game on March 6 and did not appear in another Spring Training game. He opened the season on the disabled list and played two games with Class A Lake Elsinore before joining the Padres on April 5.

Black said that Edmonds' struggles after returning from the disabled list might have been related to the calf injury, though he didn't get a sense that was much of an issue recently.

"It limited him early in the season, to what extent I'm not sure," Black said. "From my conversations with him ... he felt as though he was ready to play at his level."

Edmonds reported to Spring Training in great shape and said he felt "100 percent for the first time in a while" after he was limited to 110 games in 2006 because of injuries and post-concussion syndrome and then 117 games during 2007 while still recovering from offseason surgeries on his right shoulder and left toe.

Edmonds worked in the offseason with a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department SWAT team member who doubled as his personal trainer.

"It was what I needed," Edmonds said during a February interview. "A lot of guys at this point in their career would say this isn't what they needed. I just kept pushing myself. It was a good program. I wish I had met him earlier in my career.

"I feel great. I feel like I've really improved things this winter. ... My leg strength went up 300 percent. I did some stuff I haven't done in a while. I ran more this winter than I've run in the last 10 years. I'm excited."

But Edmonds' return to Southern California -- he makes his offseason home in Irvine and was drafted by and played for the Angels until 1993 -- didn't last nearly as long as he and the Padres planned.

"Obviously, I don't think we saw the best of Jim Edmonds," Black said.

Towers hinted there might be more moves to come, though Friday was very busy with Gerut joining the team along with catcher Luke Carlin, who had his contract purchased from Portland.

The Padres also claimed left-hander reliever Sean Henn off waivers from the New York Yankees. He's expected to be in uniform on Saturday.

The Padres resisted the urge to promote rookie outfielder Chase Headley from Portland, where he's raised his average to a season-high .304 with five hits on Thursday.

"This doesn't mean we're conceding the season by any means," Towers said. "Right now, we're at the bottom of the gutter as you want to call it. We can't be worried about what people in this division are doing in front of us. We've got to find ways to start winning series.

"We're certainly looking at making more changes. I think at this point in time with the way we're playing, you have to look at changes."

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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