So long, TC …
ST. LOUIS — I was talking to Jody Gerut before Thursday’s game here in St. Louis about Tony Clark, who hours earlier was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team he played the last three seasons for before joining the Padres.
Gerut was one of a handful of players who gravitated toward Clark in San Diego, and not just because the two had lockers next to each other in the home clubhouse.
Gerut gave me a great quote about Clark — TC to his friends and teammates. I think this sums up what TC meant to his teammates, especially the ones who took the time to listen to what he had to say or watched how he prepared for one of baseball’s toughest tasks, pinch-hitting.
“He’s a guy whose presence can be felt when he’s in the room,” Gerut said. “There are some iconic names out there
where you’re aware they are in the room. He’s someone who makes you
feel better about yourself, almost like a security blanket because of
his experience and his ability to be a father figure. There’s a value in someone who has won in the past and lost in the past and knows how to approach it mentally.”
Gerut likened Clark’s impact in the clubhouse to something he experienced as a rookie with the Cleveland Indians in 2003, a team that lost 94 games.
“I had the same experience in Cleveland with Ellis Burks. We got clobbered in 2003. He was the graybeard of the group [Burks was 38] he was the first to remind everyone that things will get better and that growing pains need to be gone through to get to the next level. Now you see what happened in Celveland.”
Many of those players who suffered through that miserable 94-loss season — Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta, Victor Martinez, CC Sabathia and Jake Westbrook, just to name a few — formed a core of a team that won 93 games in 2005 and nearly made it to the World Series last season.
There’s no doubt that Clark will be a better fit with the youthful Diamondbacks, who are said to have missed his leadership. And while it’s only fair and natural to want to know about who the Padres got in return for Clark, it’s probably worth looking at what they lost as well.