06.22.09

Fuggedabout It : Padres Kouzmanoff Acts Like He’s Not Been There Before

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 4:23 pm by

“If those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, as George Santayana portentously proclaimed, count Kevin Kouzmanoff as a contrarian argument” testifies the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Tim O’Sullivan. “I think it’s important to have short-term memory and forget about it,  explains the Padres third baseman.  “There’s no use to dwell on it. It doesn’t do you any good,” to which O’Sullivan seems to concur (“his recent results make a convincing case for strategic amnesia”)

Since his batting average plunged to .219 on June 6, Kouzmanoff has hit .314 with five home runs and 18 RBI in 13 games. For a fortnight, at least, he has been a force, so much so that even his outs are being hit harder.

The goal, Kouzmanoff said, is to approach each plate appearance as an isolated event, as if it were the first of the game. This is a goal easier articulated than accomplished, though, and the degree of difficulty can only be compounded by the pressures associated with performing in the big leagues.

In a seven-point plan presented last month in these pages, I suggested that Kouzmanoff be shipped out (to Triple-A Portland, or somewhere) in order to accommodate Chase Headley’s return to third base from left field.

Saturday night, Kouzmanoff reported to Petco Park to find Headley scheduled to play his position, and against a left-handed starter. With the Padres exploring options in advance of an anticipated glut of outfielders, and with Kouzmanoff due to become eligible for salary arbitration at season’s end, a ballplayer inclined to dwell on things might have read the tea leaves as both transparent and troubling.

Not Kouzmanoff. At least not yet. He takes pride in being able to contribute with his glove when he’s not hitting. Yet true to form, he doesn’t dwell on plays of the past. Asked to account for having made only one error to date, Kouzmanoff appeared puzzled yesterday afternoon.

œI don’t know, he said. œWho’s counting?

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