The Friar Wire

The rash of injuries to big name players last season has the San Diego Padres on edge. The result is some players who pronounce themselves as able are relegated to playing the waiting game. The club having its own stadium to workout in will help, as will new programs being developed to keep the team healthy and limber.<br><br> Meanwhile, rain threatens to cut the team's practices this week and will likely hinder the progress of the recovering players.

In the week leading up to the start of spring training, Bernie Castro worked out in San Diego. Castro has been recovering from an ACL injury and is reporting to be at 90%.

He is confident he could work out now, but the Padres have been reluctant to let anyone with a hair out of place go full strength in drills.

After last season when the team lost two of their best players, Trevor Hoffman and Phil Nevin, the team has erred on the side of caution before pronouncing their players fit.

Although the team has said Ryan Klesko is fit, expect him to be eased into the program. The team will want to make one last medical look at Klesko and his shoulder before clearing him for drills.

David Wells will be kept off the mound on rainy days and the trainers are keeping a close eye on his progress. They feel he will be ready to pitch in games in early March.

The health of the 36-year-old Hoffman, who had two rounds of shoulder surgery in a four-month span between the end of the 2002 season and the start of the 2003 season, is not in question.

Hoffman missed five months and didn't make his 2003 debut until last September. But eight of his nine outings resulted in scoreless efforts.

Since re-signing with the Padres, Hoffman has continued his exhaustive rehab program. Said Padres trainer Jim Daniel: "Trevor has been the most impressive guy I've seen this winter. He's thrown the heck out of the ball."

The Padres added a B-game March 10 against the Seattle Mariners.

A word from John Moores, the Padres owner, on the A-Rod deal in the New York Daily News: "George is one of the most profoundly selfish people I've ever known. I don't know if Steinbrenner is losing his mind as he gets older. I guess he wants to win 162 games a season. This is one terribly bad deal."

Pitching Coach Darren Balsley spent a lot of time talking technique with former number one pick, Joey Hamilton. Hamilton spent his first five seasons with the Friars before moving on to Toronto. Now at 33, he is looking to find a role on the San Diego squad as a right-handed reliever.

After the workout on Monday, Hamilton and Sterling Hitchcock met to discuss the teachings of the day. They both exchanged the different grips they use on the ball. Hitchcock is vying for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Rain is slated for most of this week and the Padres were forced to run through drills inside batting cages at a rain-shortened practice Monday.

Akinori Otsuka continues to be the highlight of camp. Japanese reporters are always following him around.

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