One-Hit Wonders: Frankie Libran to Darrell May

This is Part 8 of a 13-part series examining the 65 men who have collected exactly one hit as a member of the San Diego Padres. The current installment features a weak-hitting shortstop, three journeyman pitchers, and former big-league manager.

Frankie Libran

Pos: SS
Years: 1969

10 10 1 1  1  0  0   1  1 2 .100 .182 .200   9

The Puerto Rico native came to the Padres, along with Joe Niekro and Gary Ross, mere weeks into their inaugural campaign in a trade that sent Opening Day starter Dick Selma to the Cubs. Libran appeared in 10 games for San Diego, which turned out to be the only 10 games of his big-league career.

On September 16, in his first at-bat of the evening, Libran whacked an offering from Houston right-hander Tom Griffin into left field for an RBI double. Libran’s hit knocked Griffin out of the game in the first inning, and the Padres cruised to an 8-1 victory over the visitors. (I’ve written more about this game as part of our 1969 Revisited series.)

Libran, just 21 at the time, never returned to the Show. Knee problems and an anemic bat (career .222 batting average in 444 minor-league games) forced him to retire in 1971, at age 23. Libran’s best season came at Lodi of the California League in 1970. There he hit .250/.377/.389 and belted 13 homers — more than future big-leaguers Enos Cabell and Lee Lacy hit that year in the same league.

Rodrigo Lopez

Pos: RHP
Years: 2000

5  9 0 1  0  0  0   0  0 4 .111 .111 .111 -41

Lopez spent several undistinguished seasons (John Sickels gave him a C grade in the 2000 Minor League Scouting Notebook) in the Padres farm system before getting the call. The 24-year-old from Mexico made six starts. He pitched well in the first but was disastrous in the other five.

In his final start of the season, on June 13 at home against the Cardinals, Lopez lined an 0-2 pitch from right-hander Darryl Kile to right field for a single to open the third inning. He later scored on a Tony Gwynn groundout.

Lopez coughed up a three-run homer to catcher Eli Marrero in the fourth and a two-run shot to left fielder J.D. Drew an inning later. Kile and the Cardinals went on to beat the Padres, 8-3.

Lopez split the following season between High-A Lake Elsinore and Triple-A Portland before being released in October. Baltimore signed him a month later, and Lopez enjoyed some success there, winning 15 games in 2002 and 2005, and 14 in 2004. He also led the American League in losses (18) and earned runs (124) in 2006, a feat he duplicated in the National League last year (he also led the league in homers allowed) while pitching for the Diamondbacks.

Through parts of nine seasons, Lopez has compiled a 75-82 record and a 4.85 ERA (91 ERA+). Among his most similar pitchers at Baseball-Reference are former Padres Adam Eaton and Sterling Hitchcock, as well as Escondido native (and brother-in-law of former Padres right-hander Brian Lawrence) Mark Redman.

Jerry Manuel

Pos: INF
Years: 1982

2  5 0 1  0  1  0   1  1 0 .200 .333 .600 161

Of the 65 players in our series, two have a triple as their lone hit. This also was the only triple, and last hit, of Manuel’s career.

The Tigers selected Manuel out of a California high school with the 20th pick overall in the 1972 June draft. Two picks later, Oakland tabbed another high school shortstop from the Golden State. Although Chet Lemon eventually moved to the outfield, he also played nearly 1900 games more than Manuel, which makes up for a lot.

Manuel came to the Padres in a May 1982 trade that sent minor-league left-hander Kim Seaman to Montreal. On May 30, in his only start for San Diego, Manuel knocked a one-out RBI triple off veteran right-hander Doug Bair in the top of the ninth inning that drove home Luis Salazar.

This appeared to be the death knell for St. Louis, as it gave the Padres a three-run lead with three outs to go. But southpaw Gary Lucas and some shoddy defense (including an error by Salazar) conspired against the visitors, and the game headed to extra innings.

The Padres managed to push across two runs in the 10th against Hall-of-Famer Bruce Sutter, but Lucas again failed to protect the lead and the Padres lost, 6-5. (Manuel, for his part, grounded to shortstop with two runners in scoring position to end the 10th.)

The Padres shipped Manuel back to the Expos a few weeks later for right-hander Mike Griffin. After spending time in the Cubs, White Sox, and Expos organizations, Manuel retired as a player in 1986 at age 32. Manuel, who is the father-in-law of former Padres outfielder Rondell White, went on to manage the White Sox from 1998 to 2003 and the New York Mets from 2008 to 2010, compiling a 704-684 record for those two teams.

Tim Mauser

Pos: RHP
Years: 1993-1995

68  7 1 1  0  0  0   0  1 5 .143 .250 .143   8

The Phillies took TCU’s Mauser in the third-round of the 1988 draft. In hindsight, Florida A & M outfielder Marquis Grissom, taken eight picks later, would have been a better choice. Mauser came to San Diego in a July 1993 trade straight up for right-hander Roger Mason.

On May 3, 1994, Mauser came to bat against the team that drafted him. With the Padres leading, 7-3, catcher Brad Ausmus led off the top of the ninth with a double down the right-field line. Mauser bunted southpaw David West’s first pitch toward third base and reached safely for his lone big-league hit. Mauser was erased when Tony Gwynn hit a ground ball to second that plated Ausmus. Mauser then retired the Phillies in order on eight pitches to preserve the victory.

Mauser spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues. After toiling in the minors for most of ’95 and ’96, he retired at age 29 with a career 2-6 record, 4.37 ERA (94 ERA+), and 2 saves.

Darrell May

Pos: LHP
Years: 2005

18  9 0 1  0  0  0   0  0 5 .111 .111 .111 -39

When the Padres first moved to Petco Park, they stress tested the place by bringing in some awful pitchers to fill out their rotation. In 2004, a washed-up Ismael Valdez took his turn for most of the year. After the season, the Padres shipped pricy backup outfielder Terrence Long and failed pitching prospect Dennis Tankersley to Kansas City for May.

Aside from one shining season in 2003, May never did much in the big leagues, and his brief stint in San Diego was no exception. He began in the bullpen, moved to the rotation, and then was traded to the Yankees (along with Tim Redding) for veteran right-hander Paul Quantrill.

May won exactly one game for the Padres, although it was a memorable one. He beat that year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Johann Santana, in Minnesota. Current Padres first-base coach Dave Roberts, not known for his ability to hit left-handers, took Santana deep in that contest. (Come to think of it, Roberts also homered in May’s next start, when the latter collected his only hit.)

On June 24, while the Padres were getting clobbered by their “natural rivals” from Seattle, May stepped to the plate against right-hander Gil Meche. With three runs already in, May slapped an 0-1 pitch into right-center for a single. He advanced to second on a Roberts single, but both men were left stranded when Geoff Blum struck out swinging.

After holding a 3-1 lead through three innings, May imploded. He, Redding, and Dennys Reyes (all one-hit wonders) combined to allow 17 hits en route to a 14-5 loss.

May went on to pitch three more games in his big-league career. He made eight starts in 2006 for Triple-A Louisville in the Reds organization before retiring at age 34 with a career mark of 26-43 and 5.16 ERA (92 ERA+), numbers not unlike those of current Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel.

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2 Responses »

  1. Darrell May… a Padres legend…