Live from Padres Instructs

A full ensemble of coaches was on hand at the San Diego Padres Fall Instructional League on Friday in Peoria, Arizona. With a roster of roughly 50 players, a 5-to-1 ratio existed between player and coach.

Complications from a flight to Arizona delayed the start of Instructs for my day but I was able to take in a nine inning game between the Padres squad and the Dodgers squad. It was strange to see Dodger blue in Arizona, as they normally hold their Instructional League in Vero Beach, Florida.

Florida is barren, however, in regards to Instructs. Cost cutting was one of the reasons teams have backed out of doing a Fall Instructional League. The Dodgers, with very few teams to play, settled in Arizona instead. The New York Mets will have two full squads down there with 59 and were one of the few teams that the Dodgers could play.

On the other hand, Arizona has the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres in the same facility and several teams close by, such as the Chicago Cubs. It offers a chance to get out of intrasquad games and into a competitive environment.

The coaches on hand included vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson, minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk, roving hitting coordinator Rob Deer, roving pitching coordinator Mike Couchee, Eugene manager Doug Dascenzo, Mobile manager Gary Jones, Eugene hitting coach Matt Howe, Eugene pitching coach Wally Whitehurst, AZL Padres pitching coach Dave Rajsich, outfield/baserunning coordinator Tom Gamboa, roving catching instructor Carlos Hernandez, special assistant Bob Cluck, along with several others.

One player was evident from anywhere on the field. Kyle Blanks was in the lineup, hitting fifth. Considering the infection he had in his ankle it was great to see the big man back in action.

"The leg feels fine," Blanks said. "It is pretty much all the way healed. It is pretty much just getting the small motor functions in my leg back to tiptop shape and I think it is pretty close."

The actual game featured five different pitchers from the Padres with no player going more than two frames.

Manny Ayala took the bump as the starter and went two, allowing three hits but not yielding a run. With runners on the corners and one out in the second, Ayala induced an inning-ending double play.

Matt Buschmann was called on two pitch innings three and four. He allowed one run after retiring the side in order in his first inning of work. After a leadoff double, Matt Bush picked a ball at shortstop and went to third with the throw. It was a heads up play but the ball short-hopped third and allowed the runner to come home.

Orlando Lara walked three in his lone inning, giving up one run on a one-out single – the lone hit.

Rey Garramone was assisted by a strike from Kody Valverde to nab a runner trying to steal. He would, however, give up two runs in the next inning. After getting the first two hitters, he allowed a walk. That was followed by three hits, including a triple.

Richie Daigle pitched scoreless ball in the eighth and ninth innings.

David Freese was the lone star on the hitting side. He doubled in a run in the first inning – the only run the Padres would score. Freese and Matt Antonelli were the only two players to reach base twice and the Padres managed just three hits over nine innings.

In his lone at bat in the ninth inning, Rayner Contreras collected a two out double to deep centerfield. He would be stranded there when Jesus Lopez struck out to end the game.

Felix Carrasco, plagued by fielding issues throughout the season, made a beautiful pick on a bunt and shot a bullet to first to nab the hitter.

Luis Durango looked tentative in centerfield, allowing a ball to bounce in front of him that should have been corralled. He got a bad jump on it and when it dropped he lazily went after it.

Kyler Burke earned the extra effort award with a wipeout slide at second base in an attempt to breakup a double play. It was executed perfectly – but the shortstop prevailed in this battle, still throwing out Tom King to complete the double play.

Among the players in the states for the first time were Simon Castro and Euclides Viloria.

The Padres will play the Cubs in Mesa on Saturday.

MadFriars Top Stories