Clark knows the game is all business
Bevos release Brady Anderson to make room for ex-Ranger
Jermaine Clark didn't choose the circumstances under which he joined the Portland Beavers.
The San Diego Padres plucked him off baseball's waiver wire, accepted his salary and sent him to Triple-A. Clark showed up in Portland earlier this month. Just like the other Beavers, he wants to get to the big leagues.
The Padres released outfielder Brady Anderson to make room for Clark, a 26-year-old utility player. Anderson was hitting .294, and, more importantly, he was genuinely enjoying his stay in Triple-A after starring in the majors. He was very popular in the Portland clubhouse.
'He was having the time of his life. He said this was as much fun as he'd had in his career,' Manager Rick Sweet says of Anderson. 'I won't lie, it (the release) affected our club. Obviously, it's not my call. It's an organizational thing. But we're getting back on track. We're going to move on.'
Players in the clubhouse can typically be warm and welcoming to one another, cold and ambivalent, or simply indifferent.
'I do know it's a tough decision with Brady leaving and me coming in. The guys here really liked him,' Clark says. 'Those are business decisions, and we can't control them. I don't feel like there should be any É Brady's a good player, and he'll find another job. He didn't leave because I came in.'
So, life does move on, as Sweet says. Clark has some speed and a decent glove. He can play center field and left field, shortstop and his natural spot Ñ second base. He hasn't hit well yet (going into the eight-game homestand that started Thursday, he was batting .192), but he'll be a gap hitter and walk a lot at his best, Sweet says.
Fans of the Pacific Coast League should know Clark's name. The Seattle Mariners drafted him in the fifth round in 1997, and he has twice played for Triple-A Tacoma, including last year. He briefly played for the Detroit Tigers.
He has hit .300, with 181 steals, in seven minor-league seasons. Last year, he batted .266 in 108 games with Tacoma.
'The one tool that stands out is his speed,' Sweet says. 'Right now, he's hitting too many fly balls. He's got too big of a swing. He needs to hit the ball and use his speed.'
Clark made the Texas Rangers out of spring training this season. He had nine at-bats, with no hits, before the Rangers put him on waivers. The Padres picked him up April 30, the same day Anderson was let go.
'It's a big adjustment for me, coming to a new team after they've established relationships here,' Clark says. 'I'm trying to get comfortable. It's not as easy as just playing ball.'
The Rangers promoted Ryan Christensen to take Clark's roster spot and added pitcher Doug Davis to take Clark's place on the 40-man roster.
'It's a business, nothing I can do about it,' Clark says. 'You get to the park, work hard, get your work in and make their decision tough. You start to figure out it's a business and not a sport at this level.
'The Padres picked me up for a reason.'
The Beavers' parent team tries to push young players through its system. San Diego doesn't go after big-name free agents Ñ it can't because of its small-market revenue Ñ and instead rely on their minor-league system to fill in the gaps on the major league roster.
The Padres hope that Clark can bring them speed and versatility if he makes the big-league team's roster. A second baseman by trade, he has evolved into a utility player.
'I'll take positions where they come,' he says.
Clark already has tried to identify what his role would be with the Padres.
'It's an organization that has a storied history, but they're trying to find the right pieces to the hard puzzle everybody's trying to find,' he says. 'They move their players. That's what you want in an organization.'
As for Portland as a minor-league stop, he says: 'It's more of a big-league atmosphere, a big-league town. That's very good for guys who are trying to get to the next level. I like the city. Can't beat the stadium.'