SCOTTSDALE -- Countless Phoenicians make the drive across Interstate 8 each summer to enjoy the temperate weather and tempting beaches of San Diego. So when the
Diamondbacks decided not to re-sign San Diego native Tony Clark this winter, the first baseman had one very easy decision to make.
Clark, a respected leader with the Diamondbacks, is only weeks into his tenure with the Padres, but he already feels at home. And the Padres -- aware of Clark's personality and his .308 average and four homers against the Padres last
year -- are delighted to have him.
"I was telling C.Y. [Chris Young], it feels like I've been here for years," Clark said.
Clark is certainly comfortable at the plate. He singled twice and walked in three plate appearances Wednesday against the Giants, raising his spring stats to 7-for-16 (.438) with four runs, six RBIs and a home run.
"Tony's a veteran guy' he knows what to do in Spring Training," said bench coach Craig Colbert, acting as manager while Bud Black and the rest of the team is in China to play two games against the Dodgers.
Since Clark knows his role in San Diego will likely be the same as it was in Arizona -- that of part-time slugger and positive clubhouse presence -- he enjoys
every chance he gets to play, even in an exhibition.
"I'm more at the end of my career than the beginning, so I'm thankful just for the opportunity to come out and play," Clark said.
He's particularly thankful for the Padres, who are not only in Clark's hometown but also the
closest Major League team to Phoenix.
"Rest assured, if I wasn't going to play here in Arizona, having the opportunity to play in San Diego where I grew up is an absolute privilege," Clark said.
Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.