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After four years managing for the Japanese Ham Fighters in the Japanese pro baseball leagues and leading his team to a Japan Series championship this year, Trey Hillman is garnering tons of love from MLB teams looking for a manager. The list includes Oakland, Texas and your San Diego Padres.

Hillman comes with lots of managerial experience at the minor league level, along with time served in the Ranger organization as director of player development. Hillman is young (43) and has a track record of working with young players (12 seasons in the Yankee organization). But he’s an unknown commodity in San Diego, so he may not have enough name recognition to spark a lot of fan interest. Chances are he’ll end up in Texas.

Speaking of name recognition, Kevin Towers announced Wednesday that former Cubs manager Dusty Baker will interview for the Padres open position. He may challenge Bud Black for the Padres top of the list. Baker certainly has more MLB managerial experience than any other of the Padres candidates.

Merriman takes one for the team: Shawne Merriman has dropped his appeal and will serve a suspension for violating the NFL’s steroid policy. http://voiceofsandiego.org/articles/2006/11/02/cheapseats/989nixon.txt“>We asked him to drop the appeal a week ago. He did the right thing. Time to ask forgiveness, learn a lesson and move on.

Padres announce promo schedule

Now for a rundown of the 2007 free Padres schwag available at next year’s games:

Friday, April 6 – Colorado – Opening Night Caps

Saturday, April 7 – Colorado – Military Opening Night, Family Fireworks

Sunday, April 8 – Colorado – Padres Magnet Schedules, Padres Footbags for Kids*

Friday, April 27 – LA Dodgers – Trevor Hoffman Night, Trevor Time Desk Clocks

Saturday, April 28 – LA Dodgers – Mexico Opening Night, Family Fireworks

Sunday, April 29 – LA Dodgers – Adrian Gonzalez First Baseman Gloves for Kids*

Friday, May 11 – St. Louis – 70’s Retro Night; Park at the Park Concert

Saturday, May 12 – St. Louis – Padres T-shirts

Sunday, May 13 – St. Louis – Padres Batting Helmets for Kids*, Mother’s Day Pins

Friday, May 25 – Milwaukee – Padres Beanie Caps, Park at the Park Concert

Saturday, May 26 – Milwaukee – 4th Annual Action Sports Day, Family Fireworks

Sunday, May 27 – Milwaukee – Padres Photo Day, Padres Photo Frames for Kids*

Friday, June 8 – Seattle – Josh Barfield Replica BP Jerseys

Saturday, June 9 – Seattle – Family Fireworks

Sunday, June 10 – Seattle – Padres Yo Yo’s for Kids*

Friday, June 22 – Boston – 80’s Retro Night; Park at the Park Concert

Saturday, June 23 -Boston – Padres Salute to the Negro Leagues, Salute to the Negro Leagues Pins

Sunday, June 24 – Boston – Padres Player Key chains for Kids*

Tuesday, July 3 – Florida – Independence Fireworks

Friday, July 6 – Atlanta – The Famous San Diego Chicken Appearance

Saturday, July 7 – Atlanta – Padres Beach Blankets

Sunday, July 08 – Atlanta – Padres Floppy Caps for Kids*

July 20-July 22 -Tribute to Tony Weekend

Friday, July 20 – Philadelphia – Tony Gwynn Retro Visors

Saturday, July 21 – Philadelphia – Tribute to Tony Ceremony

Sunday, July 22 – Philadelphia – Tony Gwynn Commemorative Mini-Bats for Kids*

Friday, Aug. 3 – San Francisco – Padres Floppy Caps

Saturday, Aug. 4 – San Francisco – Family Fireworks

Sunday, Aug. 5 – San Francisco – Padres Hot Wheels for Kids*

Friday, Aug. 17 – Houston – Fiesta con los Padres Concert

Saturday, Aug. 18 – Houston – Padres Sports Bags

Sunday, Aug. 19 – Houston – Padres Backpacks for Kids*

Friday, Aug. 31 – LA Dodgers – Fan-Designed T-shirts

Saturday, Sept. 01 – LA Dodgers – Family Fireworks

Sunday, Sept. 2 – LA Dodgers – Padres Color Me Pennants for Kids*

Friday, Sept. 14 – San Francisco – 90’s Retro Night; Park at the Park Concert

Saturday, Sept. 15 – San Francisco – Padres Caps

Sunday, Sept. 16 – San Francisco – Padres T-shirts for Kids*

Friday, Sept. 21 – Colorado – Padres Team Photo Calendars

Saturday, Sept. 22 – Colorado – Family Fireworks

Sunday, Sept. 23 – Colorado – Padres Lunch Boxes for Kids*

*For kids 14 and younger. Promotions are subject to change

– CHRIS NIXON

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