After managing the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic and serving the past seven seasons as third-base coach in St. Louis the past, Jose Oquendo is finally getting interviews to manage big league ball clubs. On Tuesday, he will be the first to interview for the job in San Diego.

The 43-year-old Oquendo spent 12 years in the Major Leagues, starting his career in Flushing, N.Y. with the Mets before getting traded to St. Louis at the beginning of the 1985 season. He only hit for a lifetime .256 average, but the slick second baseman committed very few errors and was known for his heady play. Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog named him “The Secret Weapon” (as he was used several times as a relief pitcher).

Angels pitching coach Bud Black is considered to be the frontrunner, but Oquendo is also a strong candidate.

Padres pass on Piazza option, but hold on to Cameron, Branyan: The Padres today announced that the club has exercised the 2007 contractual options for outfielder Mike Cameron and infielder/outfielder Russell Branyan. In addition, the team has declined to exercise the options for catcher Mike Piazza and infielder/outfielder Ryan Klesko. Piazza had an $8 million option for next year. The Padres deemed the price tag too high, but it exclude the team from re-signed Piazza for less money.

Cameron, 33, hit .268 (148-for-552) with 34 doubles, nine triples, 22 home runs, 83 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 141 games for the Padres in 2006. His 88 runs scored and 65 extra-base hits led all San Diego batters, while his 83 RBI were tied for the club lead. Over parts of 12 Major League seasons with the Chicago White Sox (1995-98), Cincinnati Reds (1999), Seattle Mariners (2000-03), New York Mets (2004-05) and Padres (2006), Cameron has a career batting average of .252 (1228-for-4881) with 272 doubles, 48 triples, 195 home runs, 708 RBI, 778 runs scored and 254 stolen bases in 1,409 games. Cameron, who earned Rawlings Gold Glove Awards in 2001 and 2003, was originally acquired by the Padres in a trade with the New York Mets on Nov. 18, 2005.

The 30-year-old Branyan batted .292 (21-for-72) with six home runs and nine RBI in 27 games for San Diego in 2006. Acquired by the Padres in a trade with Tampa Bay on Aug. 24, Branyan combined to hit .228 (55-for-241) with 18 home runs and 36 RBI in 91 games between the Padres and Devil Rays in 2006. In 627 career Major League games over parts of nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians (1998-2002), Cincinnati Reds (2002-03), Milwaukee Brewers (2004-05), Devil Rays (2006) and Padres (2006), he has a .232 batting average (395-for-1705) with 83 doubles, 111 home runs, 274 RBI and 237 runs scored.

Piazza, 38, hit .283 (113-for-399) with 19 doubles, 22 home runs and 68 RBI in 126 games for the Padres in 2006. His 22 home runs set a new single-season record for a San Diego catcher and, on April 26, he became the 41st player in Major League history to reach the 400 home run plateau. Over parts of 15 Major League seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1992-98), Florida Marlins (1998), New York Mets (1998-2005) and Padres (2006), Piazza has a career batting average of .309 (2042-for-6602) with 327 doubles, 419 home runs 1,291 RBI and 1,015 runs scored in 1,829 games. He is the all-time Major League leader with 396 home runs as a catcher.

Klesko, 35, batted .750 (3-for-4) in six games for the Padres in 2006 after missing the first 150 games of the season due to a strained left shoulder. Over parts of 15 Major League seasons with the Atlanta Braves (1992-99) and Padres (2000-06), Klesko has a career batting average of .280 (1470-for-5249) with 316 doubles, 272 home runs, 943 RBI and 823 runs scored in 1,620 games.


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