A dream Merced lives whenever he's playing in rightfield.
PRAY FOR THE NEW PADRE
Fed up with having to drastically slash the payroll, Padre general manager Joe McIlvaine left the team last Thursday. In his place stepped Randy Smith, who a week before his 30th birthday became the youngest G.M. in major league history. Too young, in the minds of some, who point to the turmoil that has centered on the Reds" 32-year-old rookie general manager, Jim Bowden (SI. June 7).
But Smith grew up in baseball—he's the son of Tal Smith, the highly respected former general manager of the Astros and former executive vice-president of the Yankees—and he has 10 years of front-office experience. Randy has been San Diego's scouting director and, for the past year, the assistant general manager of the Rockies. He's very popular among Padre front-office employees, who greeted his return with two standing ovations.
Smith's first move with the Padres showed his commitment to stability: He extended the contract of Jim Riggleman—one of the game's top young managers—through 1994. Still, Smith faces a very tough road in San Diego. Padre owner Tom Werner has said more "significant cuts" in the payroll are expected in the next year, which could mean the trading of two stars, first baseman Fred McGriff and third baseman Gary Sheffield.
"I don't think our situation is different than that of most small-market teams," Smith says. "We'll just maximize our money, spend wisely and maybe follow the plan used by Houston and Montreal: Build with young talent, supplement with inexpensive veterans. I'm very confident we can build a winner in San Diego."
OFF THE SCHNEID
The biggest winner in the Indians' 10-9 victory over the Rangers last Saturday night was Cleveland pitcher Matt Young, who got his first W since May 20. 1991. His victory drought spanned 47 appearances, including 14 losses. Young, who was taken out in the middle of an inning in each of his last 15 starts, won in relief. He pitched 4? innings, threw 96 pitches (44 of them balls) and struck out eight. "Someone asked me if I felt lighter," Young said after the game, "I said, 'Sure, did you see that monkey that jumped off my back?' "
Young left the game after the fifth inning, with a 9-6 lead, then suffered through a Texas rally that pulled the Rangers to 10-9 after eight. In the ninth Texas put two runners on base before Indian reliever Derek Lilliquist got the final out. "I can't lie to you," said Young. "I was a mess."
Talk about a specialist. Rocky reliever Gary Wayne's job is to come in and get one lefthanded hitter out and then take a shower. In 27 games this season, through the end of last week, he was 2-2 with one save, and in those five appearances he had pitched a total of 1? innings—25 pitches in all.... According to one major league scout, the slow start by Cardinal center-fielder Ray Lankford (.279, only 10 extra-base hits) has occurred "because he just doesn't have the same snap in his bat as he did last year. He's not as quick up there."...The Braves appear certain to trade centerfielder Otis Nixon, who has lost playing time since Atlanta signed Deion Sanders to a new contract. The Rangers and the Red Sox are two teams that could really use Nixon in the leadoff spot.... Last week both Tony Gwynn of the Padres and Jim Eisenreich of the Phillies came up one leg shy of hitting for the cycle. The missing hit in each case was a single.