Padres' changes extend to minors

First Priscilla Oppenheimer announces her retirement and then two members of the minor league staff are removed from their posts and allowed to seek jobs elsewhere. On the injury front, one player will miss playing in Mexico this year while another is on the road back to recovery.

After 23 years of service, Priscilla Oppenheimer has retired. She joined the San Diego Padres staff in 1983 as a secretary to the scouting director and was ultimately named director of minor league operations on January 9, 1996, a position she held until announcing her retirement earlier this month.

Oppenheimer was instrumental in assisting in all areas within the minor league system, putting her neck out for players, coaches, and trainers. From lobbying for money to cover expenses to making sure players received dental care, Oppenheimer was at the point. She will be missed by many.

Roving infield instructor Tony Franklin and Independent League coordinator Mal Fitchman have been let go by the Padres.

The decision to allow these two to go was made prior to the start of the Instructional League. And they were each told early enough to allow them to seek work elsewhere.

Beyond that, the Padres expect to retain most, if not all, of their coaching staff's within the minor league system in some capacity.

It should be noted that Mobile manager Gary Jones was in Peoria, Arizona at the Padres' Instructional League working with players on infield defense.

Jones, who managed Mobile over the last three seasons, could be in line to take over as the roving infield instructor with Franklin dismissed.

Jones guided the BayBears to a share of the Southern League Championship in 2004, winning the Jack Krol award honoring excellence in player development in the Padres' system for the second consecutive season. His first Jack Krol Award came with Single-A Fort Wayne, a club that went 71-66 in the Midwest League in 2003. In 14 managerial seasons, Jones has compiled a 999-884 (.531) record that has produced four championships.

If Jones is amiable to taking over the infield instructor position within the system it could open the door for Arnie Beyeler, a hitting coach with Mobile this season, to take over as a manager, presumably of the Double-A San Antonio Missions.

"I have talked to some people about next year but I have not heard anything concrete," Beyeler said. "They are still kicking some things around.

"I know when they talked to me last year I was brought over here with some rumors that maybe something like that would happen but by the same token whatever they need me to do I am here to do. I enjoy both sides of the spectrum. Whatever they want to do I am fine."

Beyeler managed three seasons in the Texas Rangers organization prior to coming over to San Diego, spending time with Grady Fuson during his tenure with Texas. Beyeler led the Bakersfield Blaze to a 68-72 overall record in 2005 and in 2004 and 2003 he led the Stockton Ports to the California League playoffs.

The biggest question will be whether some of their managers and coaches get sniffs elsewhere. Craig Colbert, Rick Renteria, and Randy Ready are among the top candidates for jobs on major league teams. Barring a job offer at the major league level, the feeling is all should return to their respective teams.

Portland hitting coach Jose Castro was interviewed by the Seattle Mariners for their roving hitting instructor position, a spot that oversees all of the hitting coaches in a system and works on continuity at all levels.

"It went real well," Castro said of the interview. "They went with Alonzo Powell - it was him and myself, the finalists. Everything I thought went well.

"The next step is whatever happens. I am happy where I am at with the Padres. We have a good group here."

On another front, Paul McAnulty had his knee checked out by San Diego doctors and will have a minor surgery on it after the Instructional Leagues. He is taking ground balls in Arizona at third base.

The Padres had hoped to have him play under Tom Gamboa in Mexico this winter but his health will preclude that.

Cesar Carrillo is working on side sessions and reportedly looking good. His repertoire does not include breaking balls but he has avoided surgery and the Padres are looking to him competing out of spring training for a spot in the rotation.

John Hudgins has been prescribed more rest. He was removed from the Arizona Fall League in favor of Jared Wells and has yet to begin throwing.

The Padres had their annual home run derby this past weekend with Nic Crosta winning the event and Dominican third baseman Felix Carrasco placing second.

The staff also took their shots at the wall but not a one blasted one over the wall with Carlos Hernandez coming the closest.

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