Notes: Barfield stays level-headed
Rookie not intimidated by magnitude of postseason
SAN DIEGO -- Josh Barfield has no doubt how the Padres, noted for their resilience, will respond following their 5-1 Game 1 loss to the Cardinals in the National League Division Series in Thursday's Game 2 at PETCO Park."We'll come out ready to play," Barfield said. "We've shown all year that tough losses don't bother us. Everybody expected us to fall apart after the Dodgers hit all those home runs to beat us, and we came right back the next night and won to go back in first place -- and kept winning." For Barfield, the Padres' Rookie of the Year candidate, Oct. 3 was very much like April 3. The emotions of his first postseason experience mirrored those of his Major League debut at PETCO Park with one significant difference -- the Padres beat the Giants on April 3, with Barfield singling and scoring a run against Jason Schmidt. In his postseason debut, Barfield struck out and flied to center in his two at-bats against Chris Carpenter. The second baseman handled six chances flawlessly, including a solo double play on a grounder over the bag at second to take Jake Peavy out of the fourth inning after Albert Pujols' game-turning homer. "It's funny, it was exactly the same," Barfield said. "My parents were in the stands, and I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect. Then the game started, and it was like it was just another game. You get so caught up in each pitch, in focusing on game situations, that you don't have time to think about the crowd and how big it is, all of that. "I mean, last year at this time, I was home on my parents' couch watching these guys play, thinking how cool it would be. Now I'm here, getting to be a part of it, and it's awesome." Barfield was the lone regular taking part in Wednesday's voluntary workout, manager Bruce Bochy having encouraged them to take a break after a long stretch of grinding baseball that included a 22-9 finish with only two days off. Barfield's father, former Major League slugger Jesse Barfield, "thought it would be a good idea to get some work in," Josh said, "and it couldn't hurt to take some swings. I like to keep my same routine." That routine included his customary video games competition with teammates right up until about 30 minutes before gametime. Along with his Sudoku mathematical puzzles, Madden NFL 07 and PlayStation Portable keep Barfield's mind active before he takes the field. Before Game 1, Barfield engaged Todd Walker in Madden, and, as usual, prevailed. Chris Young and Clay Hensley have provided formidable competition in PSP, Barfield said. "Somebody told me that Preston Wilson and Lastings Milledge might be the only guys who could give me a game," Barfield said. "I've been playing Madden since I was a kid. I can take just about any team and win." Barfield expects the Padres to be the same as always for Game 2 -- loose and relaxed before the game, intensely focused when it's time. "Win or lose," he said, "we'll be the same team. And we'll play our best baseball." Greene's role: Bochy indicated that Khalil Greene will remain in his role as defensive specialist in support at short behind Geoff Blum as Greene continues to seek his timing and rhythm after a six-week absence with a hand injury. "Each day he gets a little better," Bochy said of Greene, whose four at-bats in Arizona on the final weekend -- he was 0-for-3 with a walk -- were his first since Aug. 17. "He was a little better [Wednesday]. Blum's been playing well, and Khalil's been helping out later in the game."
In critical wins on Saturday and Sunday against the Diamondbacks, Greene appeared in the middle to late innings, with Blum moving over to third base. Greene delivered significant plays in each game, including a strong throw from deep in the hole for the final out behind Trevor Hoffman in the clincher started by David Wells on Saturday."Khalil is one of the best in the game defensively," Bochy said. "He was huge in those two games. He can make plays not a lot of guys can make." Greene, in a sense, is like Hoffman now, hoping to make his entrance with a lead, even if AC/DC doesn't greet him. "I'm trying to be creative in finding new ways to say it's about the same, getting a little better," a grinning Greene said of the left middle finger he injured on Aug. 3, and reinjured when he came back after missing six games. Young confident: Chris Young, the Padres' Game 3 starter in St. Louis on Saturday, came off the field on Wednesday perspiring freely -- and beaming. "That was my best bullpen of the year," he said. "I feel ready to go." Young is coming off two superb performances, against the Pirates in San Diego and against the Cards at Busch Stadium, where he'll duel Jeff Suppan on Saturday. He had a no-hitter against the Bucs until ex-Padre Joe Randa hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth. In his final regular-season start, Young gave up only one run and three hits in seven innings in a Sept. 27 game at St. Louis that got away when Pujols homered against reliever Cla Meredith. "I've been in a nice rhythm, and I hope to keep it going," said the 6-foot-10 Princeton tower, having given up just four hits in his last 16 1/3 innings. He doesn't like to talk about his 24-game road streak without a loss, one shy of the all-time record of Allie Reynolds. He calls it a "coincidence" and moves on to more interesting topics, such as the latest book he's read or his revived interest in video games with his Padres teammates. "This is really an enjoyable team to play for," Young said. "It's been a tremendous season for me in every respect -- and I want to keep it going for a while. I like our chances with Boomer [Wells]." And the Padres always like their chances with Young, who led the league in lowest batting average against at .206 and in lowest road ERA (2.41). Boomer's future: Wells, 43 and still throwing strikes, keeps saying he won't be back next season "unless somebody makes a stupid offer." He hasn't been specific about his idea of "stupid," but it probably means something with seven figures and close to his San Diego home. "If they give you a stupid offer, how can you say no?" Wells said in the afterglow of his brilliant effort Saturday in Arizona in the playoff clincher. "It's like my wife said, 'If [CEO] Sandy [Alderson] gives you a good offer, at least you have to think about it.'" Bochy notes that Wells is not making any retirement speeches. "A lot of clubs would welcome having David Wells on their staff," Bochy said. "He's going to leave the window open a little. "He's a competitor, a guy who loves the game. He has passion for baseball and for life, too. He has a real great attitude. He doesn't put pressure on himself. He just does his best, the way he looks at it, and sees what happens."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.