Padres players excited about WBC

Alan Embree seems to have the upper hand on a spot in the bullpen. All of the Padres who will head out of town for the World Baseball Classic are excited. San Diego may be looking for a shortstop on the trade wire.

  • LHP Alan Embree appears to have a spot clinched in the Padres bullpen. Embree, 36, had elbow surgery after last season to remove five bone chips and two bone spurs after posting a 7.62 ERA with the Red Sox and Yankees. The Padres fondly remember Embree, who had a 0.94 ERA with the Padres in 2002 before going to the Red Sox in a midseason trade. At the time, Embree was trying to talk the Padres into a long-term contract.

    "I really wanted to play and live in San Diego," he said.

  • Doug Mirabelli appeared to be the Padres' starting catcher for most of the winter, until the Padres signed Mike Piazza in late January. Now Mirabelli, who was acquired from Boston in a trade for 2B Mark Loretta, is the backup.

    "I'm sure there was some disappointment for him," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said of Mirabelli. "At the same time, he's going to get more playing time than he's ever gotten."

  • RHP Jake Peavy, who has been targeted to face Mexico on March 7 as the U.S. opens the World Baseball Classic against Mexico, made 40 throws from the mound on the first day the Padres reported (Feb. 17).

    "I'm maybe a week ahead of schedule," Peavy said. "It felt good." Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said Peavy is throwing "a lot better" than he usually does at this stage of spring training.

    Two Padres are excited about representing Mexico in the inaugural WBC.

    "I've never played on a true Mexican team like this one," said 38-year-old 3B Vinny Castilla. "It means a lot to know your country is watching and rooting for you."

    Said 1B Adrian Gonzalez: "I'm really anxious to get out there and defend my country.

  • Mike Cameron will be given a look at hitting in the No. 2 slot this spring. Manager Bruce Bochy earlier said 1B Ryan Klesko could be used in the No. 2 hole. 2B Mark Loretta had been the Padres' staple in the No. 2 spot the last three seasons.

  • General manager Kevin Towers says shortstop is one position where the Padres might be looking for more help. The lone proven backup to Khalil Greene, who has been on the disabled list three times in the last two years, is Geoff Blum.

  • Jim Malone, 38, has been named the Padres' major league strength and conditioning coach, replacing Joe Hughes. Malone worked in the Indians' minor league system the last two seasons. He was the New York Mets' strength and conditioning coach in 2002 and served the Kansas City Royals as their major league strength and conditioning coach in 2001-2002.

    Former Padres scout Jimmy Dreyer died Feb. 16 after a long illness.

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