The big game on Sunday inspired me to write this article on San Diego Padres history. Wait…..the Super Bowl inspired you to write an article on Padres history? No of course not, I’m referring to the Caribbean Series final between Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan and Venezuela’s Tigres de Aragua.
The game was quite the thriller, ending in walk-off style by Mexico’s designated hitter Jorge Vazquez, who ironically had been part of the Tigres de Aragua team. The same team who had been crowned champions in the Venezuelan winter league to actually get to the Caribbean Series.
That game obviously did not get too much recognition and the Caribbean series itself does not really get the attention it deserves in the states. Perhaps this article will make you want to watch the competition next year. Here’s a look back on some Padres who have been part of the action over the years.
Many Padres greats and not so greats have participated in the Caribbean Series over the years, whether it was representing their country or just wanting to get some action in during the off-season.
We can start many decades ago, but I’ll begin in 1982 with former long time Friars Skipper Bud Black. Buddy was part of the Leones del Caracas from Venezuela. Black went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA doing great against Mexico’s Naranjeros de Hermosillo in his lone start.
A 1984 Padre was also in the mix with Leones del Caracas in Luis Salazar. Salazar who was a decent base runner bagging 32 steals in 1982 as a Padre would lead the Caribbean Series with four stolen bases, he would also lead the series in runs with six. Leones del Caracas would go on to be crowned champions in the 1982 campaign with an overall record of 5-1.
Next we jump to 1985 in San Juan Puerto Rico where Hall of Famer and former Friar Roberto Alomar would have a magnificent performance. Alomar was crowned champion with the local San Juan Senadores and was named the MVP of the competition with a whopping .560 bating average and 10 RBI.
The home town team was stacked with players such as Bernie Williams, Juan Gonzalez, Mariner’s great Edgar Martinez, Ruben Sierra, and Carlos Delgado. Another former Padre was part of the Senadores team, long time relief pitcher Doug Brocail who had two stints with the Padres, first beginning his career from 1992-94, then again towards the end of his career from 2006-07. Brocail was solid for the Puerto Rican team going 1-0 with a 1.00 era very similar to Bud Black‘s numbers in 1982. The Senadores would go undefeated and of course take the championship with a team still remembered by many as “the dream team”.
Now we dive into the 21st century, the year is 2009, the setting is Mexicali, Mexico, just over a two-hour drive from San Diego. The team is the current champs Venados de Mazatlan from Mexico who would just fall short in this campaign. Venados had five players in some way tied to the Padres.
First off a man who at the time had not thrown a pitch in the major leagues yet Walter Silva. Silva had a solid Caribbean Series going 1-1 with 12 strikeouts and a 2.25 era. The Padres gave Silva a shot in 2009 and well the results were not pretty, Silva started six games and went 0-2 with a get ready… 8.76 ERA.
Those would go on to be the only six games in Silva’s Major League career. Since then Silva has been solid playing in Mexico, including playing right across the border for the Tijuana Toros. Now Oscar Robles who just like Silva did not have an extensive stay in the bigs was also part of the Venados team. Oscar played a few games for the Pads back in 2007 and like Silva is now playing in Mexico. Robles who is a native of Tijuana is now playing for his hometown team the Toros with again Walter Silva.
Next a man who could possibly manage the Friars in the Future (you never know) Miguel Ojeda. He played 166 games for the Padres from 2003-05 and actually hit eight bombs in Petco Park’s inaugural campaign back in 2004. Ojeda had been managing the Mexico City Diablos since 2013 and just took a job last year as a coach in the Giants organization.
We go to another possible future Padres manager in the older Gonzalez brother, Edgar. Edgar had a solid Caribbean series hitting .423 with a .454 on base percentage and a .577 slugging percentage. The San Diego native was well liked by fans in his two seasons with the Padres and was always a great team player. After a long journey of minor league systems and even playing in Japan, Edgar is now the Manager of the Aguilas De Mexicali and looks promising to some day manage in the show.
We finally get to the face of the franchise for a number of years here in San Diego Adrian Gonzalez. El Titan was a huge fan favorite in San Diego and is still loved by Padres fans even if he is a Dodger. Adrian had a massive Caribbean series with a .286 batting average, eight RBI, a .714 slugging percentage and would set a Caribbean series record with three home runs in one game. Gonzalez would set the record on Febuary 4th against the Domincan Repulic’s Tigres de Licey. Even with that performance the Venados would go 3-3 and finish second, Ironically enough the Champions would be Tigres de Aragua from Venezuela who of course are the team who fell to Venados de Mazatlan in this years competition.
As you can see many Padres have participated in the Caribbean Series. Of course this years competition may be one that Padres fans may not want to remember depending on the severity of Ferando Rodney’s injury. Still many other former Padres were not mentioned such as Bruce Bochy in 1983, John Kruk in 1986, Vicente “Huevo” Romo on many occasions,Oliver Perez, Ozzie Guillen, Alexi Amarista,Vinny Castilla, the legendary Fernando Valenzuela, and Miguel Tejada who is the all time home run leader of the competition with 14. In my opinion the Caribbean Series is a must watch if you are truly a baseball fan, you will get to see some competitive baseball and some familiar faces along the way.