Pitching key to victory

Pitching, ultimately, won the San Diego Padres rookie team a Championship. Those prospects will begin to move up the chain next year. It also helped having one of the biggest surprises on the team.

Geoff Vandel had a renaissance when he was moved back into the starting rotation.

Carlos Lezcano: Yes he did. Razor, Dave Rajsich, our pitching coach, did an outstanding job with these kids, especially Vandel. We worked with his confidence and the last three starts he only gave up one run in 16 innings. That is nice to see. He just got married and he and his wife are having a baby so it is good to see. It was a good way to end the season. He gained some weight from last year so hopefully he comes to spring training in better shape and he should be fine.

Did anyone really surprise you on how much they learned from the start of the season to the end?

Carlos Lezcano: (Rayner) Contreras had an outstanding spring and moved to Fort Wayne and he came back and he was a little lost. He hit in the bottom of the lineup but I said, ‘Let me hit him second because that is where he hit all spring and extended.' Once I put him in hitting second he took off. I was a little worried about him when he came back from Fort Wayne but…

It was an outstanding year all the way around.

Pascual Juan – a guy that throws hard but it will take some time for him to perfect all of his tools.

Carlos Lezcano: He throws really hard and you just have to wait and see so he can repeat his delivery and work on his off-speed pitches and command his fastball. He is a little erratic but he has a good arm. He has to work on ball placement. He gets a little nervous on the mound but relaxed a bit more towards the end, smiling and having fun. That is a good arm that other teams like also.

Matt Huff and Matt Handley were the veterans of the pitching staff and you called on them often. They came through with solid years.

Carlos Lezcano: They were outstanding. When you have young kids, like I had in Mead and Garramone who might have got tired – setup and closing is where I used those guys.

Was it tough to get all the pitchers in the game?

Carlos Lezcano: We used that piggyback starting, following a starter almost the whole season.

With the Paewai injury and some of our bullpen getting thin we went to a normal rotation for the last few weeks. That helped the bullpen.


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