SAN DIEGO—The Padres have had mostly happy days this season and one of their newest teammates, Aaron Cunningham, epitomizes that happiness.
Ever since he was called up from AAA Portland on June 11, every day seems to have been a happy day for Cunningham.
First, his teammates have welcomed him with open arms.
"I call him Richie Cunningham," said Padres' shortstop Jerry Hairston Jr..
Fortunately, the 24-year-old outfielder played much better than the sitcom character from Happy Days.
Cunningham went into the All-Star break with a .339 batting average and a career-high 10-game hitting streak.
"I've been having a lot of fun," Cunningham said. "If you are having fun, you can contribute."
Cunningham contributed right away. In his third game with the Padres, on June 15, he hit a grand slam to help the Friars beat Toronto.
He came to the Padres from the Oakland A's along with Scott Hairston in the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade, and because of injuries to the Padres, joined the big league club for the first time in mid-June.
"I was ecstatic," Cunningham said. "I was struggling down in the minor leagues, and it was kind of a down year for me. (For them to) let me know that they still have confidence in me to put me out there, gave me a lot more confidence to go out there and have fun."
"We knew it was going to take more than 25 guys to get this thing done," Hairston said. "We have a handful of guys who are able and willing at AAA and sometimes it takes 30-35 players through the course of a long season to contribute."
Cunningham has also made plays with his glove, an aspect of his game he said he has diligently worked on. Whether or not he stays with the big club through the rest of the season, he said he will keep his Happy Days attitude.
"You never know, you just have to be happy," Cunningham said. "You're playing baseball for a living. You just have to be happy with what comes and what goes. Just keep on going with it."