Susan Luzzaro 8:14 a.m., May 23
Padres gaining in Cactus League
The San Diego Padres had a good week in spring training Cactus League play and their fifth starting pitcher spot appears to be between only a couple of candidates now
Culminating with a victory on Saturday over the Arizona Diamondbacks by a score of 10-4, the Padres appear to be on track to having a set five-man rotation sooner rather than later, thanks to a couple of great outings by a couple of the candidates this past week. And some of the bats are remaining hot as well.
Against the Diamondbacks, Tyler Ross got the start and looked outstanding, going 5 1/3 innings and giving up only one hit and three walks while striking out three and holding the Diamondbacks scoreless. Meanwhile, Padres bats pounded out 10 hits including back-to-back home runs from Yonder Alonso and Jesus Guzman.
This follows two games on Friday, which saw the Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-7 while losing the split squad game to the Kansas City Royals by the score of 7-5. In the game against the Dodgers, Andrew Cashner got the start and pitched effectively for 2 1/3 innings, giving up a run on three hits and a walk while striking out two.
While manager Buddy Black and the rest of the Padres staff are silent about the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation, at the moment it appears to be between Cashner and Ross. The odd man out would likely wind up in the bull pen.
Cashner is slightly behind in that race, as his allotted pitch count was still in the 30-40 pitch count range per outing his last start while Ross has worked up to between 70 an 80 pitches per outing. There is still half of a month to go before the Padres open the regular season in New York against the Mets on April 1st (no fooling).
On Thursday, the Padres lost an exhibition game against the Netherlands baseball team currently playing in the World Baseball Classic. The game doesn't count for anything, but Eric Stults went four innings and some of the younger Padres relief pitchers gave up some late runs in the 9-3 loss.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Angels fell to the Padres 8-6. Clayton Richard hit the five innings mark in 69 total pitches, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits and a walk, but got bailed out from taking the loss thanks to some of the youngsters who will start in the minors, with a four-run eighth inning rally for the Padres.
Overall, the Padres are now 12-10 in Cactus League play. The win/loss record isn't terribly important, but better to be on the right side of the win column.
Kevin Quackenbush, Jason Ray, Matt Stites, and Robbie Erlin have been assigned to minor league camp. It's a good bet that all will start at either AA or AAA but meanwhile, these reassignments are routine and it doesn't mean that you won't see any more of them in spring training. It's all up and down in March.
Padres prime pitching prospect Casey Kelly is facing Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm, but team physicians have failed to convince him, so he's seeking a second opinion. Kelly came to the Padres from the Red Sox organization along with Anthony Rizzo in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez a couple of years ago. Rizzo, meanwhile, was traded to the Cubs for Andrew Cashner while Kelly has shown much promise but appears to have issues that need to be addressed surgically. Should Kelly elect to have the surgery then the team would be hopeful that Kelly could return and possibly contribute in 2014.
On Sunday, the Padres will again split the squad and play a pair on St. Patrick's Day. The Arizona Diamondbacks will once again face the Padres but this time in Tucson while the rest of the team will go to Tempe to play against the Los Angeles Angels. Both games start at 1:05 PM PDST, and one will likely be carried by the Padres radio flagship station 1090 AM. Or else one should be on a netcast which can be located at the padres.com website.