Padres notes from the field in Washington

WASHINGTON DC - While taking in the three Nationals games this past weekend, we have a few odd and ends from talking to some of the Padres players and coaches in the locker room and on the field.    

Mike Piazza was incredibly impressive during batting practice on Friday. He announced to his teammates that he was going to swing "for the fences" and then proceeded to put four straight into the third deck in left field 444 feet away, which came in handy for Sunday‘s pinch hitting special.

Khalil Greene also generates much power, but most of its is through a quick core shift of his hips and lower body at the plate.

Ryan Klesko has been taking batting practice with the team for the first time in a few months. Klesko's timing is naturally off as is his strength from his surgically repaired shoulder.

When asked what did he attribute his team consistently being able to find quality minor league relief pitchers, Bruce Bochy credited pitching coaches Darrel Ackleford and Darren Balsley. "Not only do those guys work with their mechanics, but they do a better job of getting into their heads. Letting them know what we need out of them and how to go out and get it done.

"I just can't say enough about what a great job they have been doing."

It should also be noted here that Portland pitching coach Gary Lance and roving pitching instructor Mike Couchee have also been instrumental in smoothing out mechanics and getting players to the show.

After Sunday's game, Bochy talked about how Khalil Greene's timing is coming back after having an inconsistent first three months at the plate.

"He's getting his timing back. He got in a little skid there, but he feels a lot more comfortable up there right now and it shows. He really had a good series here."

The Padres seem to have cooled on the notion of Paul McAnulty at third base, but still see him as being in the picture for a roster spot in 2007. Everyone at the big league level we spoke with values his bat and he could be in the running for a utility role.

Minor League catcher George Kottaras has been impressive, but the major league team wants to see more of the defensive intangibles out of him, better at calling games and exhibiting a more assertive personality. Keep in mind that Bochy is a former catcher and places higher expectations on that position than any other. It is no surprise they have gone through so many backstops in the last few years and a lot has to do with their defensive games.

The play of Josh Bard and Rob Bowen is probably going to mean Kottaras will next year in Portland.

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