Vicente Padilla, Ace On The Diamond

Photo by, Devon Lewin

Gregory Lewin

2005 7 11 4.32 21 21 0 0 0 0 114.2 112 56 55 16 56 76

Philladelphia, Aug. 28,2005-Phillies ace pitcher Vicente Padilla has been outstanding in the months of July and August. His brilliant pitching through his last 9 games has made him the best pitcher on the Phillies squad. In his last five games, Vicente has allowed only seven runs. In the game on Tuesday, August 23 against the San Francisco Giants, Padilla allowed only 2 runs in 8 strong innings of brilliant pitching. He held the Giants to only 3 hits. Vicente has a 1.94 ERA in his last 9 games.

After so many trade rumors that were going around and the threat that he maybe pulled from the Phillies rotation, Vicente came out to prove to the Phillies that he is the best pitcher on their squad. He did not at any time let the trade rumors get to his game. Many of the games he lost could have been won but for the lack of support from his teammates, batters and bullpen alike, who squandered every favorable opportunity. Padilla never blames anyone of his team mates for a lost. He is always looking forward to the next game hoping to turn things around.  

Padilla had a rough start this year. He lost his first five starts before finally winning one against Cincinnati on May 15. Since the month of July, Padilla has been nothing but brilliant and consistent.  His pitches are in the high 90’s and not slowing down one bit, thus the turn around. Opponents have had a hard time catching up to his pitches. He continues to dominate with what is called “one of the best fastball in the league.”

Padilla doesn’t talk to the media, and many are wondering what he has done to cause the turn around this season. I am very lucky to have Padilla as a friend who allows me to spend some time with him. I met Padilla through another very close friend of mine, former San Francisco Giants outfielder, Marvin Benard. Contrary to what you may read or hear on the streets, Vicente is a humble person, very friendly, and very professional. He cares about his friends and most of all his family. I have never seen him denied anyone an autograph. Every man has a weakness. His is cars. He loves cars.

Recently, I sat down with Padilla after a game he pitched against the Chicago Cubs in which he lost 2 – 1. It was another game in which he got no support from the teammates.

After the game, we went to dinner in downtown Philadelphia at the Cuba Libre restaurant.  After dinner, we went back to his beautiful home in Central Philly where we watched the re-run of the game he had just lost a few hours earlier. Instead of him being upset about the lost, he was joking about how fat the camera makes him look. Vicente is 6’2 and weighs 220. I have to agree that the TV made him look much bigger in the gut. It was the laugh of the night. When I asked him about the lost he said he was not upset because he had done his best and pitched well to win the game. Of course he would have preferred to have the win but these are things you have to deal with. 

Q- I asked Padilla what he attributes to his turn around and he said:

 A- “ I am much stronger now” and I am well focus on what I am doing” I choose my pitches. 

Earlier in the year, Vincente was placed on the DL on March 25 with right triceps tendonitis, and he spent some time in AAA Clearwater rehabilitating himself. He is 100% now as he has demonstrated his wellness in his last 9 games. He has kept the Phillies in the wild card race thus far.

I then asked the burning question which goes through my mind every time I see him in a jam.

Q- Vicente, tell me what goes through your mind or what goes on in your head when you have three runners on base with no out? (Vicente has been in this situation many times) without hesitation he says:

A-    “Not much goes on in the head other than trying to get the next batter out”

 He never seems to lose concentration when he gets in these jams. He has always found a way out. An example of his ability to keep his cool is during the game he pitched against the Washington Nationals on August 18. A game he won 2-1. In the second inning of that game the Nationals loaded the bases with no outs. Instead of breaking down, Vicente went to work and retired the next three batters on a strikeout, a fly, and a grounder. Then again in the sixth, the nationals had runners on first and second with no out but Padilla once again got out of the jam.

As to his favorite player (s) growing up in Nicaragua, Padilla stated that he admired quite a few but two names stands out: "Pablo Juarez and Epifano Perez." He says he loves the pitching style of Epifano and the way Pablo was able to connect with the ball. Pablo Juarez was a feared hitter who has earned a spot in the 1,000 hits, 100 homeruns, and 100 stolen bases club in Nicaragua. His numbers are: 1500 hits,  138 hr,  104 stolen bases.  

Note: Vincente Padilla is the only active Nicaraguan player in MLB.



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