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San Diego Padres re-sign injured player LaChappa each and every year – SportsUntapped.com
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Added April 27th, 2015 by Ian

San Diego Padres re-sign injured player LaChappa each and every year
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The San Diego Padres MLB club had a busy offseason by acquiring several new players such as Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel and James Shields. But perhaps the most important contract of all was offered to former pitching prospect Matt LaChappa, who hails from the Barona Indian Reservation in California. LaChappa, who’s now 39-years old, suffered a heart attack back in 1996 while he was warming up in the bullpen for the Class A Rancho Cucamonga team. The incident happened during the opening game of the season and La Chappa survived the heart attack and a second one while he was in hospital, but is now confined to a wheelchair.

To their credit, the Padres have taken care of the former pitcher by renewing his minor-league contract each and every year since the incident. This helps him out financially and it also ensures La Chappa that he has health insurance. Priscilla Oppenheimer, who formerly worked as the Padres’ minor-league operation director, recently told the press that many people felt devastated when La Chappa suffered the heart attack because everybody in his community looked up to him. She stated that when he signed his first contract most of his tribe came out to watch the ceremony.

She added that LaChappa is a great person, but he can’t communicate very well, but he has a superb sense of humour as his mind is just as sharp as it always was and he’s simply a joyful person to be around. The Padres have named a community baseball diamond after him in the community of Lakeside and he was also invited to the club’s Petco Park to be honoured. La Chappa was then wheeled out to the pitcher’s mound where he witnessed his brother Eagle throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

Eagle spoke to the media about the Padres and his brother and remarked, “The Padres have been pretty special to him. They’ve said he’ll be a Padre for the rest of his life, and they’ve allowed him to keep a certain level of care.” He added that Matt still watches as many of San Diego’s games as possible and is happy when they win and sad if they don’t. According to Eagle, the LaChappa family has a very good relationship with Tony Petricca, the equipment manager of the Padres, and he arranges trips for them to Petco Park.

LaChappa was chosen by the Padres n the second round of the 1993 draft when he left-handed high-school pitcher already had a 90-mph fastball.

 
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