Nady looks to fit in

The San Diego Padres have promised an increased role for Xavier Nady in 2005. Fulfilling that promise, on the other hand, is what Nady is waiting to see. A year older and a year wiser, the new "supersub" is expected to log some serious at bats. Before becoming enthusiastic, let's wait until it happens.

Although he has no spot in the starting lineup, Xavier Nady could be one of the keys to the Padres' hopes in 2005.

Going into spring training, the 25-year-old Nady officially was the club's fourth outfielder.

He will also spell Sean Burroughs at third base. And he's the first in line should Ryan Klesko struggle in left or Brian Giles decide to opt for free agency following the 2005 season. Don't forget the minutes he logged last spring under the tutelage of Wally Joyner.

Nady spent most of the 2004 season with Triple-A Portland after hitting .267 with nine homers and 39 RBI in 100 games for the Padres in 2003. He spent much of that season as a regular outfielder.

After getting only 77 at-bats in 34 games with the Padres last year, Nady is hopeful of getting 400 plate appearances this season. Padres general manager Kevin Towers would also like to see that -- they project Nady as a "super sub" until he breaks into the starting lineup.

"Eventually, he's going to be a starter somewhere," Towers said. "I think this will be the season where he starts to come into his own and live up to some of that potential. We've got to find a way to get X in there."

Towers isn't the only general manager who sees potential in Nady.

"We probably got asked more about X this winter than any other player," said Towers. "We just have no interest in trading him. I think we know what we've got."

Last year, Nady hit .330 with 22 homers and 70 RBI in 74 games with Portland. After finishing the season with the Padres, he stopped by the Arizona Instructional League to field grounders at third, a position he hasn't played since college ... and a position that could be something of a risk since he has undergone elbow reconstruction surgery.

Some observers also see Nady's future at first base.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy won't go as far as predicting 400 plate appearances for Nady although he knows that Nady is one of those players who thrives on playing every day.

Nady, however, believes the very fact that he figures to be with the Padres throughout 2005 gives him the edge he needs.

"It's hard to play this game when that fear of being demoted is always hanging over you," said Nady. "I expect to be here throughout this season. I've got to have enough confidence in my game to know that I belong here."

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