Padres Minor League Notebook: Opening Day

Weather ended Opening Day for two teams while two others got underway. Portland and Lake Elsinore got the ball rolling but both teams would lose. Pete Laforest continued hitting but pitching and defense was lacking. Bartolo Colon cruised through the Storm lineup and a strong lineup was shutout.

Portland lost 9-4 to Fresno (Giants)

Pete Laforest continued his hot hitting from spring, launching a solo homer in his first at bat and going 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Laforest went 14-for-37 with four doubles, three homers and ten RBIs this spring. The catcher missed the entire 2006 season – initially with a shoulder injury and then a back injury that claimed the rest of the season.

He did, however, struggle behind the plate. Fresno swiped three bags off he and Jack Cassel over the first three fames – and two were of third base. He surrendered four stolen bases in the game, allowed a passed ball, but did manage to pickoff one runner leaning at first base.

Jack Cassel lasted 4.1 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, including two home runs, and two walks. He threw 77 pitches, 48 for strikes. He issued two wild pitches and picked off one runner. Cassel went 3-5 with a 6.48 ERA over 18 outings, including 11 starts, for Triple-A Portland last year. He surrendered four runs or more in seven of his starts last season. It was the fourth time in his last 12 Triple-A outings that he has served up two homers in a game.

Scott Strickland was roughed up for four runs on four hits and two walks over two innings of work. Nineteen of the 34 pitches he threw were called for strikes. Strickland went 5-2 with five saves and a 2.09 ERA over 73.1 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He did not surrender more than two runs in any outing last year and opened the year with a 25 inning scoreless streak.

San Antonio snowed out against Tulsa (Rockies)

The Missions and the Drillers got things started in Tulsa, but after two and a half innings the game was postponed due to a snow storm in Tulsa with the score 0-0. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Friday. Sean Thompson will start one game and Roger Deago is expected to make a spot start in the other.

Lake Elsinore lost 1-0 to Rancho Cucamonga (Angels)

Rancho Cucamonga, CA-- Bartolo Colon, the 2005 Cy Young Award Winner after posing a 21-8 record with a 3.48 ERA, took the hill against Lake Elsinore on Opening Day. He fired blanks over four frames, giving up one questionable single, walking one and striking out five. Colon threw 61 pitches with 42 strikes and hit 95 MPH on the radar gun. The righty retired ten straight to close out his rehab assignment.

"I felt good out there and am really looking forward to my next outing," Colon said in a statement.

"His ball had a lot of movement away from the righties and into the lefties," manager Carlos Lezcano said.

"You could tell his adrenaline was pumping," Angels' director of player development Tony Reagins said. "He had good control – crisp. It was encouraging. He threw the ball where he wanted to throw it. The arm strength is clearly there."

David Freese was the lone player to notch a hit off Colon – a high chopper that the second baseman could not get out of his glove. He followed up with a solid single to left field in the sixth. His last at bat wasn't quite as cool. He flailed weakly at side-armer Daren O'Day's nasty offerings en route to whiffing on three pitches.

"That was not something I was not hoping for," Freese said. "Early in the year that is not something you are used to facing. It was mean. They got him they are going to use him."

Manny Ayala pitched six solid innings, yielding one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three. Ayala surrendered a leadoff triple to open the fourth and a sacrifice fly brought that runner home. Ayala went 5-4 with a 4.05 California League ERA over 23 games, including 12 starts. Ayala pitched seven innings of shutout baseball in his last outing of the year – a playoff game where he received a no-decision.

"You have to tip your hat to Manny," Freese said. "He did a hell of a job and it is unfortunate he had to get the ‘L' but he is going to pitch like that all year and we are going to get some wins for him."

"He did outstanding," Lezcano said of Ayala. "He got ahead of the hitters, located his fastball well and threw his changeup when he was ahead."

Fort Wayne versus Lansing (Blue Jays) was postponed due to inclement weather

The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday.

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