With the San Francisco Giants having signed two former San Diego Padres to their coaching staff and two more that played under new manager Bruce Bochy in southern California, the Giants have added arguably the most recognizable Padre from the past several years.
The Giants and Ryan Klesko agreed to a one year deal on Tuesday, adding another left handed bat to a full but very unsettled positional puzzle.
Klesko, 35, has split time between first base and left field for most of his career, and could have an impact at both positions again in San Francisco. "He'll be playing some first base, he'll be playing some outfield,” Bochy said after the signing. “He's done both and gives us some flexibility there.”
Klesko joins a crowded group of players who have unsettled positions on the Giants team. Another former Padre under Bochy, Rich Aurilia, had been slated to start at first base but now he could have to earn a starting job or split time with Klesko. Meanwhile, Klesko may compete with another former Padre, left handed hitter Mark Sweeney, who also plays first base and left field.
Bochy sees having the two of them as an asset, saying “It's a nice luxury to have Ryan and Mark Sweeney for their experience, and when we make double-switches.”
Young first baseman Lance Niekro also may be edged out of playing time, as would expected fourth outfielder Todd Linden, with Klesko’s arrival. The mix complicates as both Aurilia and Pedro Feliz can move around the infield, and so can expected backup infielder Kevin Frandsen.
Klesko missed most of the 2006 season with shoulder problems, starting the season on the disabled list. He had surgery on his left shoulder in April and only appeared in 6 games late in the season. He had a double and two singles in 4 at bats, while collecting two walks at the end of the year.
Although he hit .291 in 2004.Klesko batting around .250 for two of the three years before Klesko’s lost 2006. Klesko hit 20 home runs or more in 8 of the 9 seasons between 1995 and 2003. But Klesko’s power was affected by the Padres move to a new stadium.
Klesko had spent most of the time playing left field since the Padres opened spacious Petco Park, and has struggled to hit for power since the park opened. After four straight years of a slugging percentage over .500 from 1999 through 2003, Klesko slugged .456 and lower each of the following years until his injury-filled 2006.
However, Bochy’s recommendation for Klesko’s signing came from what Bochy saw late last season as Klesko returned. “It looked like the Ryan Klesko I knew two or three years earlier. It's tough to play this game when you're hurt."
Giants general manager Brian Sabean confirmed Bochy’s sentiment about Klesko. "He's fully endorsed by the manager," Sabean said. "He's a winning player and that's why he's here."
The deal reportedly is for $1.75 million for the 2007 season, and he could earn as much as $2 million in performance bonuses, getting the full amount if he reaches 550 plate appearances. The AP has reported that the Giants will donate $250,000 of his salary to Klesko’s charitable foundation, Blue Ryno. Blue Ryno provides support, facilities and services to critically and terminally ill children and their families.
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