Tomko back with Friars for playoff run
Veteran right-hander can start or pitch out of bullpen
PHOENIX -- Getting himself from his San Diego-area home to Lindbergh Field on Tuesday certainly proved an easy enough task for Brett Tomko.
But trying to figure out what flight to climb aboard proved to be much more complicated.
"I was going to the airport this morning not knowing whether I was going to Denver or to Arizona," Tomko said.
In the end, Arizona proved the better destination for the 34-year-old right-hander, and not just because the flight was shorter.
Tomko spurned an offer Tuesday to join the Rockies and, perhaps, to guarantee himself a job with the Rockies next season to instead sign a contract to pitch the remainder of the regular season for the Padres after clearing waivers earlier in the day.
Tomko is not eligible for the Padres postseason roster, should they qualify for the playoffs.
"It really came down to this morning because Colorado had made a big push and we were talking about stuff for next year," Tomko said. " ... But my heart was definitely here [with the Padres]. It's going to be a good situation."
The Padres certainly hope so.
By signing Tomko -- designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Aug. 24 to make room for, oddly enough, former Padres pitcher David Wells -- the Padres hope Tomko can give them an option for their fifth-starter vacancy or, at the very least, depth in the bullpen.
Tomko is a candidate to start on Sept. 15 against San Francisco when the Padres will next need their fifth starter.
"He has always had good stuff. He pitched well for us here a few years back," San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said. "He's a very good arm, a guy who'll be in the mix when we go back to a fifth starter. He's a strike-thrower, a guy who will pound the strike zone."
That is something Tomko got away from doing with the Dodgers, as evidenced by his 2-11 record and his 5.80 ERA in 33 games, including 15 starts. Part of that, of course, was his fault. But the Dodgers insistence on making changes in his throwing mechanics was part of the problem, Tomko feels.
"I think there was some tinkering with my mechanics made to get more movement on my fastball," Tomko said. "It kind of threw my mechanics out of whack. I was pitching like a completely different person. It was a bad situation for me."
After being designated for assignment by Los Angeles, Tomko returned to his home in Poway, located outside of San Diego and threw three bullpen sessions and a simulated game on Saturday where he threw between 80-85 pitches.
"Those 10 days off ... I kind of re-evaluated and went back to basics, threw three or four bullpens, threw a simulated game and got back to my mechanics," Tomko said. "It was a good workout for me. I let loose, figuring that Tuesday, someone could be picking me up."
He was right, and that team was the Padres. Tomko said he was relieved to be away from Los Angeles, where he was never quite sure what his role was. Tomko is still unsure of how he will fit in, though he's embracing his return to the Padres.
"I told [manager] Bud [Black] whatever you need me to do, I'll do. Whatever innings you need me to throw, you have my right arm at your disposal," Tomko said.
For his career, Tomko has a 91-91 record with a 4.62 ERA in stints with the Reds, Mariners, Padres, Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers. Tomko has won 13 games twice in his career -- in 1998 with the Reds and 2003 with the Cardinals.
He was 10-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 32 starts for the Padres in 2002.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.