San Diego Padres sign four

Damian Jackson

The San Diego Padres made their first plunge into free agency but it wasn't the splash many had hoped. They signed infielders Damian Jackson and Jesse Garcia and right-handed pitchers Marty McLeary and Mike Brunet. Each was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

All four of the signed players are 27 years old plus. The Padres have a history of signing a few players each year to compete for a spot on the big club. It also provides them early season depth from Triple-A, in the form of a call up if injuries transpire.

Damian Jackson is a former Padre who played for them from 1999-2001. Jackson has played second base, shortstop and the outfield during his career. In his three years with the Padres Jackson batted .224, .255, and .241. He spent most of 2004 in the Pacific Coast League with Iowa and Omaha. He had 30 at bats at the Major League level, getting just three hits for a .100 average.

"He homered on the first pitch he saw as a Cub," said Cubs' journalist Steve Holley. "But then went 0-for-10 and was released. He was pretty awful in all honesty. Couldn't walk, couldn't hit, couldn't get hit."

Jackson has a career Major League batting average of .244 (443-for-1818) with 23 home runs and 165 RBI in 642 games.

Jesse Garcia began the 2004 campaign on the Atlanta Braves Opening Day roster. He appeared in 50 games with the Braves batting .252 (29-for-115) with one home run, four doubles and 10 RBI. Garcia has spent the last four years with tours of duty in Atlanta and their Triple-A farm club, Richmond. His 50 game stint with Atlanta was the most amount of games he has logged at the Major League level.

"He was one of Bobby Cox's favorites – a whiz defensively with a little pop in his cannon," said Braves' journalist Kyle Hawkins. "He took over at second base for Atlanta early in the season when Marcus Giles went down after colliding with Andruw Jones in Milwaukee and performed admirably for several weeks, but then totally floundered offensively. He's a solid addition to any bench, a superb base runner and as previously mentioned – an apt defender. He's much in the line of Keith Lockhart (former Brave and Padre), and was equally as hated by Atlanta fans.

Garcia has a career batting average of .224 (53-for-237) with three home runs and 19 RBI in 155 games.

Marty McLeary appeared in three games with the Padres in 2004, going 0-0 with a 14.73 ERA (6 ER/3.2 IP). He made his Major League debut against the Marlins in late August.

McLeary was phenomenal down the stretch for Portland, sandwiched around his time with the Friars. He allowed just one run over his last 17 outings with the Beavers. He went 2-0 with 11 saves over that stretch. For the year, McLeary was 5-4 with a 2.99 ERA. He limited the opposition to a .215 batting average with Portland and lefties hit just .137 off him.

Michael Brunet split the 2004 campaign between Anaheim's Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake affiliates. Brunet made two starts with the Travelers (AA), going 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA before earning a promotion to Salt Lake where he went 2-8 with a 6.51 ERA in 13 games (12 starts).

While he held the opposition to a .178 batting average with the Double-A squad, they smoked him at a .318 clip while in Triple-A. His worst start, ironically, came against the Portland Beavers on May 5, a seven run, all earned, outing.

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