Stars Spencer hit hard in ‘99 triple-A debut

Fri, May 21, 1999 (10:59 a.m.)

He made it into the San Diego Padres' starting rotation once already this season.

Now the question is does 29-year-old Stan Spencer have what it takes to make it back to San Diego this year?

Spencer, who began the year as the Padres' No. 4 starter before being sent down on Tuesday after compiling an 0-5 record and 7.71 ERA, struggled in his 1999 triple-A debut with the Las Vegas Stars on Thursday night at Cashman Field, yielding seven hits and five earned runs in just four innings of an 11-2 loss to the Fresno Grizzlies.

All in all, it hasn't been the greatest 48 hours of Spencer's career.

"They told me before (Tuesday night's game against St. Louis)," Spencer said of his demotion. "It's not an easy thing to have happen. I want to keep a positive frame of mind."

Spencer flew to Las Vegas late Wednesday night. Besides being plagued by rustiness --- he hadn't pitched in a game in five days and hadn't started a game in almost two weeks --- he also battled a minor groin injury during the contest.

"I felt a little tug in the second inning and then in the fourth inning it got tight," Spencer said. "It's disappointing to go out there and have an outing like I had tonight."

Spencer gave up hits to the first three batters he faced on Thursday night resulting in two Fresno runs. But he settled down after that to retire nine straight batters before running into more problems in the fourth.

Valley High product Doug Mirabelli opened that inning with a long double to right and then scored when leftfielder Felipe Crespo hit a towering homer to center to give Fresno a 4-1 lead.

The Grizzlies added another run in the inning on a double by Jay Canizaro and a two-out RBI single by Fresno starter Ryan Jensen.

Stars manager Mike Ramsey said he was told by the Padres to work on just one thing.

"All they told me was make him pitch inside," Ramsey said. "That's it. We'll have to see him pitch and see what we think ... see if there is something mechanically we need to work on. Maybe he just needs to get his confidence back."

Padres manager Bruce Bochy told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he hasn't given up on Spencer.

"We have confidence that Stan can pitch at this level," Bochy said. "Sometimes when things are going bad, they don't get better, they just keep getting worse. I think Stan is going to benefit from this. And we'll see him again."

* GIOVANOLA CALLED UP: Following the game, Stars infielder Ed Giovanola was informed that he had been called up by the Padres to replace Wally Joyner (separated shoulder).

"A shock," said Giovanola, who entered Thursday night's loss batting .256 with two homers and 10 RBIs. "But it's a nice shock. I didn't think I did very well down here. ... I just assumed I'd be here all season."

To replace Giovanola on the roster, the Stars picked up third baseman Alex Pelaez from single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

* LIGHTS OUT: Thursday night's game was delayed for 19 minutes at the start of the fifth inning when the lights in left field and on the third base side of the field suddenly went out.

A circuit-breaker needed to be reset and it took 12 minutes for the lights to recharge to full strength.

* DAVIS ILL: Catcher Ben Davis, in the midst of a season-high seven-game hitting streak, was a late scratch from the lineup Thursday with what Ramsey called a "respiratory infection."

"He was sick (Wednesday), too," Ramsey said. "We hope its only a one-day thing. I think (rightfielder) Mike Darr has a little bit of it, too. He was hacking around here, too."

* GAME RECAP: Fresno (23-18) pounded out 16 hits off four Las Vegas pitchers, including two doubles by Mirabelli and a home run and double by leftfielder Crespo, in routing the Stars (20-20) 11-2 Thursday night at Cashman Field.

* UP NEXT: The Stars conclude their series with the Grizzlies with a 7:05 p.m. contest at Cashman Field. Right-hander Buddy Carlyle (3-2, 4.01) will start for Las Vegas against Fresno right-hander Jason Grilli (3-2, 4.89). The Stars then begin a four-game home series with the Memphis Redbirds on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.

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