Well-traveled Stairs to set unique mark

Well-traveled Stairs to set unique mark

SAN DIEGO -- With his feet propped up against his locker, Matt Stairs eased back in his clubhouse chair Sunday and carefully snipped the elastic from the legs of the game pants he'll wear on Opening Day.

Consider it an annual rite of spring for the 42-year-old.

"It's like the running of the bulls in Pamplona," Stairs said with a smirk.

This was anything but an ordinary spring for Stairs, who on Monday will make history as he suits up for his 12th Major League team when the Padres begin the regular season with a game at Chase Field against the D-backs.

Stairs will become the first position player in the modern era to play for 12 teams. He will tie pitchers Mike Morgan and Ron Villone as the only Major Leaguers during the modern era to play for 12 teams.

First baseman/catcher Deacon McGuire also played for 12 Major League teams during a career that spanned 1884-1912.

"I really haven't thought much about it, to tell you the truth," Stairs said. "It's nice and it is different. In my career, I've impressed 12 teams to the point where they wanted to sign me.

"For a guy who grew up in a small town in Canada -- not expecting to play for one Major League team -- let alone 12, it's quite an honor."

Stairs came to camp in February on a Minor League contract and with no guarantees even if others considered him something of a lock for the 25-man roster. General manager Jed Hoyer liked Stairs' track record, his knack for pinch-hitting and his ability to take a walk.

Still, Stairs had to show he could play. He came to camp 31 pounds lighter than he was at the end of the 2009 season, the result of smarter eating and playing hockey near the home he makes in Maine.

Stairs, who is expected to almost exclusively pinch-hit and possibly serve as a designated hitter in Interleague Play, hit .207 during Spring Training with one home run. He walked three times and, generally, felt good about the way he swung the bat.

"I came in with a point to prove," Stairs said. "Coming in here in great shape was a bonus. Despite my average, I think I swung the bat well."

Manager Bud Black told Stairs before an exhibition game in Anaheim that he had indeed made the team. Black pulled Stairs into his office to tell him the news.

"It was the first time in 15 years I've been called in and told I made the team," Stairs said. "Most of the time, even with a Minor League invite, I knew I was on the team. ... When you get called in the office, though, you never know if it's good or bad."

Stairs started his Major League career playing in 1992 for Montreal. He's also played for Boston, Oakland, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Texas, Detroit, Toronto and Philadelphia.