Notes from minor league spring training

A sliding stop, scoop an tag. A lineup double play. Misplayed balls in the outfield. Two errors from the pitching staff. Two home runs. Two triples from the same player. The San Diego Padres Double-A squad displayed it all in a 6-4 win. Plus notes from all around the minors.

Four batters into the game, the Padres had a 3-0 lead over their Texas Rangers counterparts. Sean Kazmar crushed a fastball to the deepest part of the field, dropping it in front of the 420 sign in centerfield and burning around the bases for an easy three-bagger. After David Freese walked, Tim Brown took an inside pitch over the right field wall, approximately 350 feet away.

Brown would add a sacrifice fly late in the game, giving him four RBIs on the afternoon.

"It is a work in progress," Brown said of his swing and the adjustments he made over the off-season. "It is not lift – you never try and create lift but backspin and getting the ball to go further."

The Padres would roll the first inning – the Rangers deciding to preserve one of their young arms with two outs and two on.

Richie Daigle was the first pitcher to commit an error. With a man on first, Daigle induced a comebacker but threw it over the second baseman's head – that erased any thoughts of a double play and led to several runs crossing the plate.

Daigle had good sink on his pitches and the Rangers weren't getting many good swings but logged two bloop singles to score some runs.

Matt Buschmann followed Daigle and started with an error of his own to the first batter. He fielded a bunt on the third base side of the field – a ball that fell to the responsibility of Freese because he would have been in better position to throw. Buschmann sailed the ball as he tried to pick up the ball and throw in one motion.

He was saved on the next play. Juan Ciriaco caught a liner and made a heads up play to double off the runner at first. Ciriaco also saved a run by showing incredible range to backup an errant throw from Charlie Lisk.

It wasn't the first Lisk ball that would be saved.

Kazmar made a terrific play to net a caught stealing for his catcher. While he was slower to the bag than he would have liked, he caught the ball with his body beyond the bag on the shortstop side of the field and wheeled around in a spin-o-rama to tag the runner out.

Kazmar hit his second triple of the day later in the contest, driving in a run with a shot to right-center. He ended the day 2-for-4 but did ground into a double play.

"Very tiring," Kazmar joked of his two triples. "Just going up there looking for a good pitch to hit and I found some gaps out there. It felt good up at bat and feels real slow right now and hopefully I can carry it on."

Nic Crosta added a homer to cap the scoring for San Diego and Juan Ciriaco went 2-for-3 with a triple.

Jon Ellis labored through the ninth inning, giving up two hard shots – a triple and a double but bounced back to get a ground out and struck out the final batter with his darting slider.

Notes:

Yordany Ramirez misplayed a ball in the sun in the first inning. He called off the left fielder but the ball dropped a foot from his glove as he moved to his right. Ramirez also laid out for a ball in the ninth but could not come up with the play.

Juan Senreiso also misplayed a ball that resulted in a two-base error. He made a late break on a bloop and thought he could corral it before pulling up short. The ball bounced right and past the right fielder, allowing the runner to gain some extra bags. Senreiso did display a cannon arm from right – gunning a ball to third base on a fly with nice precision.

Buschmann sported a solid two-seam fastball in inning one, getting some good sink on the ball. He did, however, try and throw too hard in his second inning of work and was over-rotating, causing his balls to elevate.

Eddie Pena, a submarine right-hander, showed off several different release points during his one inning of work. He did elevate a pitch or two but because it comes from such a low angle it has the appearance of moving up into the zone – similar to a rising fastball. He also picked off a runner after allowing a bunt single.

Brett Bonvechio worked the first half of the game – from behind the plate. He showed solid receiving skills and seemed to have a good rapport with the pitching staff. His ability to throw out a runner was not tested but he seemed surprisingly comfortable back there.

Colt Morton is estimating he will be fit in two months. He is only doing light work at this point but hopes to continue to do more in coming weeks.

Vince Sinisi launched several balls out of the yard earlier in the day during batting practice. The outfielder showed a smooth swing that came off as effortless. It is no surprise that he followed it up with a solid day.

Greg Maddux made the opposition look silly during his tour of duty in the Triple-A game. Texas players were swinging over pitches and could not get a beat on his cutter dipping down in the zone and hitting each of his spots.


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