In the Bullpen

The Padres' new Petco Park has one feature that is unique to major league parks. <br><br> One bullpen is situated beyond the fence in left-center. But the other bullpen is located outside the right-field foul line. The latter was designed to be the visitors' bullpen.

But several Padres relievers, including Trevor Hoffman, believe the Padres might be better served by the bullpen that borders on the field of play and is right underneath a large section of stands.

The club is now considering using the right-field bullpen for the Padres -- and putting the visiting relief pitchers beyond the outfield. When the Seattle Mariners visit Petco Park for a three-game, exhibition series April 2-4, the Padres will alternate using the center and outfield bullpens.

"We want to see which is more comfortable for our relief pitchers," said Padres general manager Kevin Towers.

Petco Park was designed with the idea that the Padres would use the outfield bullpen. It is larger, and the pitchers are protected from the field of play.

But many of the seats surrounding that bullpen are very close to the bench and mounds -- closer even than the proximity of the seats to the bullpen outside the right-field foul line. The right-field bullpen also offers players better proximity to the Padres clubhouse behind the home dugout on the first-base line.

"For pitchers to ride a bike or get treatment, it's a long haul from the outfield bullpen," said Towers. "Besides, they have to wait for the end of the inning to cross the outfield. And you can't play long toss in the outfield bullpen."

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