He instantly will, if he hasn’t already, become a fan favorite for his ability to steal bases and his defensive capacity from the centerfield position.
But Freddy Guzman supplies so much more.
Called up and inserted into the lineup as the leadoff man, Guzman came to bat in the bottom of the first inning. On an 0-1 pitch he singled up the middle to spark a rally against former Padre Jaret Wright.
With Guzman on first base, the Padres perhaps saw something they had never seen before. A pitcher was more worried about the man on first than the batters at the plate. He didn’t get his first steal but his speed negated a potential double play and Wright was so preoccupied with Guzman at second that he almost forgot that he had to pitch to a few batters.
Eight batters later he was up again – still in the first inning. The count went to 3-0 before Wright battled back to make it 3-2. One pitch later Guzman had the first RBI of his career when he drew the bases loaded walk.
One inning – one hit – one run – one RBI – one hope for the San Diego Padres in their playoff push.
No matter what the players said after the game and it was irrelevant, Guzman inspired something in them.
In the second inning, Brian Giles and Phil Nevin hit back-to-back homers – at Petco. Nevin has to be in good spirits. Getting back into the playoff hunt took one player and an inning that could not have been scripted any finer.
If not for an inning ending double play off the bat of Jake Peavy, Guzman may have gotten his third at bat of the game and his Major League career in the second inning.
Ironically, Guzman did not have a hit in his other four at bats. It didn’t matter. The table setter did his job early on and spurned the team on to victory.v
Before the game began, Guzman acknowledged the weight of the responsibility that he has playing centerfield for a pennant contending team. He stressed he was ready.
“I am very confident I can do the job.”
With the fans watching and salivating, there is no doubt he is capable. After a storybook night like Tuesday, what will the encore hold?
Tune in tomorrow when the speedy Guzman is at it again – a welcome sight to a Padres team that needed enthusiasm.