Jack McKeon hopes his honeymoon with Florida lasts for at least one more game as the Marlins take on the San Diego Padres in the opener of a three-game series at Qualcomm Stadium.
The new Florida manager won his debut on Sunday, 7-2 over Colorado. McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg, who was fired late Saturday.
“I’m like a kid with a new toy,” McKeon said. “I felt good about today. I felt I had a tremendous rapport with the guys.”
Though McKeon is 72 years old, the Marlins are hoping he can bring their team some desperately needed energy. McKeon, who has managed four other teams, held a meeting with his new players to declare his intentions.
“The message was to have fun,” McKeon said. “I told them, `I think you’re trying too hard. Relax and have fun, and we’ll win.”’
Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre seems especially happy to have McKeon at the helm. On Sunday, Pierre singled, walked three times, stole three bases and tied a Marlins record by scoring four times.
“I’d love to draw it up like this every night,” McKeon said. “I truly believe these guys are good enough to compete.”
The Padres, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back from losing the last two games of their weekend series with the New York Mets.
Luthor Hackman allowed the winning run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning Sunday, sending the Padres to their fifth consecutive series loss and 12th loss in the last 14 games overall.
“I tried to make a good pitch there. I was looking for a groundball,” Hackman said. “It’s really depressing, because if I make a good pitch there, we’re still in the game.”
STANDINGS: Marlins - 4th place (tied), 9 GB, NL East. Padres - 5th place, 13 1/2 GB, NL West.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Tommy Phelps (0-0, 1.54 ERA). Phelps is making his first start of the season following eight appearances in relief. The rookie has struggled with his command this season, allowing 12 hits and eight walks in 11 2-3 innings. Phelps has never faced the Padres.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Clay Condrey (1-1, 8.36 ERA). Condrey was hit hard by Montreal on Wednesday in a 12-9 loss. The right-hander allowed six runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings. Condrey has never faced the Marlins.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Alex Gonzalez, .336 avg.; Mike Lowell, 10 HRs, 29 RBIs and 23 runs; Pierre, 17 SBs. Padres - Xavier Nady, .284 avg.; Ryan Klesko, 9 HRs and 27 RBIs; Ramon Vazquez, 21 runs and 5 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 5-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - The Marlins improved to 6-1 (.857) when playing their first game under a new manager. In all other games they’re 717-868 (.452). … With his home run Sunday, 2B Luis Castillo has now hit two homers in each of the past four seasons. … LHP Michael Tejera, who hurt his back and right leg stumbling over a base Saturday, is tentatively scheduled to make his next start Friday at Los Angeles. Padres - 2B Keith Lockhart left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning Sunday. Two innings earlier, he limped off the field after the Mets’ Timo Perez slid into him on a steal attempt. Manager Bruce Bochy did not expect Lockhart to miss any time. … 1B Klesko has six homers and 13 RBIs over his last 13 games. … RHP Jake Peavy threw 128 pitches over 6 1-3 innings on Sunday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 6-12 on the road; Padres - 6-10 at home.
INJURIES: Marlins - OF Abraham Nunez (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Josh Beckett (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Mark Redman (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL. Padres - C Gary Bennett (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Adam Eaton (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Jarvis (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Kevin Walker (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jay Witasick (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Trevor Hoffman (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Phil Nevin (shoulder), 60-day DL.