Peoria buzzing with news

Cuts are coming and the aura around camp is a little tense. The expectation is 15-25 players will be leaving camp and the focus will be on placing the remaining players on their respective clubs for 2006. With that in mind, the Padres minor league camp is buzzing with news not related to the day everyone dreads.

Ray Gill who had been seeing most of his time at first base was over at third base on Monday and made a beautiful pick and throw on a sharp grounder.

Sean Thompson sailed through his first inning of work and fellow pitcher Paul Abraham quipped, "When he is throwing strikes he is unhittable." The lefty ran into trouble later in the game, loading the bases with two outs before getting a strikeout to avoid damage. Thompson has a tendency of looking at the baserunner a little too long and it makes him fail to locate the plate as his delivery pushes him towards the plate. That, in turn, makes him wild.

Drew Macias looks like a completely different player these days. The added weight has made him a formidable bat in the lineup as well. He hit a bomb on Monday and three of his last four hits have left the park.

"I have been playing anywhere but center," Macias revealed of where he is lining up in the field. One of the best centerfielders in the system has been playing left and right field, alternating with Adam Bourassa. Kennard Jones has been the fixture in center with Macias expected to join him in Mobile.

Jones, incidentally, looks fit and does not consider it a failure if he lands, as expected, in Mobile to begin the year, and has shown a greater sense of maturity in being able to handle such an event.

"It is definitely not a failure. That is definitely something that is out of my jurisdiction, out of my control," Jones said. "All I can do is go out there and put my best foot forward wherever they send me. I am just thankful and blessed just to be able to put on a jersey and to be able to go out there and play the game that I love so much."

Mike Sansoe got an error assisted inside-the-park home run when he lined a ball through center and the fielder misplayed the ball as it went all the way to the wall.

Steve Delabar pitched a strong side session to Nick Hundley and he has impressed Dave Rajsich with his arm this spring. Rajsich said he has command of all his pitches and has sink on his fastball.

With cuts announced by Tuesday morning, Nathan Staggs is just looking for an opportunity to pitch.

"It is an opportunity that most Independent League guys are begging for," Staggs said of spring training. "Just an opportunity to get my foot in the door and make the most of it."

Left-hander Arturo Lopez has been working out of the pen after spending the 2005 season in the Lake Elsinore starting rotation. He ran out of steam at the end of the year but the Padres believe he will excel when he returns to the relief role. Plus, lefty relievers can be in the majors quickly if they get outs. Lopez is slated to join Mobile.


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