Padres MLN: Carrillo back; News and Notes

Peoria, AZ- The most exciting news out of the morning session at the San Diego Padres Spring Training complex was a bullpen session from Cesar Carrillo. That is just the beginning in a huge notes package:

  • Cesar Carrillo took the hill for a bullpen session on Wednesday morning, throwing the ball to catcher Luke Carlin.

    "I am feeling great," Carrillo said.

    The right-hander, coming off Tommy John surgery, threw 40 pitches before taking a rest. He came back and tossed 31 more pitches to complete his session. Carrillo flipped between the windup and the stretch in both sessions.

    Carrillo looked crisp, given his considerable layoff from the mound. While his fastball lacked the normal velocity he is accustomed to, hitting somewhere in the mid-80s, he showed some good location with his pitches. He alternated working to both sides of the plate and one had to be encouraged by the early signs.

    Right now, Carrillo is still trying to regain the feel for his changeup. He flashed some good ones and also had some that were ordinary.

    "Remember the tempo and pace," pitching coordinator Mike Couchee reminded Carrillo of his changeup. "Don't change anything but your grip."

    After a changeup that didn't look good, Couchee asked Carrillo if he felt it. Carrillo noted that he did and Couchee said, "That is half the battle. It will come back much easier if you feel it." Given his past success with the pitch, Carrillo should regain its feel with time.

    Carlin noted that his ball had "heavy sink" and it was evident that the velocity was the biggest thing lacking. Still, Carrillo said he was pain-free after the session and felt these were the beginning steps to his recovery. His timetable remains on target for May.

  • Padres right-hander Kevin Cameron took a ball off his thumb and head on Wednesday morning. An errant ball plunked him while he was in foul territory and he put his hand over his head to stay free of harm. Unfortunately, the ball hit him directly on the hand.

    Apparently it was his left thumb that took the damage and his pitching hand remains intact. Left-hander Mike Johnston was called over from the minor league side to replace Cameron.

  • The prospects worked on their anticipation with runners on base during both the morning and afternoon session. The situation was presented as:

    Runners on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on third. The number nine hitter is in the box and down 0-2. Everyone knows he is overmatched. The runner from first will break towards second and the runner from third will eventually break home.

    "We always want the easy out," minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa said. "Finish off the play if the runner is close but be aware that the runner going home is the one we want because that can hurt us."

    The theory is that when the guy breaks for second, the pitcher steps off, looks to third and then throws to second. If the second baseman is close to the runner, get the out. If not, throw the ball home to cutoff the runner attempting to score.

    Ali Solis made a picture perfect throw to second on a delayed steal during the same drill. On the return throw, he quickly threw the ball to third and then inexplicably ran up the line. The runner was able to jet past him before the third baseman could return the throw – earning Solis some scolding.

    "After you throw the ball what did you do? You kept running," Doug Dascenzo said. "Stay at home. They will run to you."

  • One of the funnier moments of camp came when pitching coach Wally Whitehurst kept hitting balls into the outfield for Corey Kluber to go field. "Another one for you Klub!"

    Lee Gwaltney, who was also in the outfield helping Kluber out, commented "I feel like a rookie again."

  • Another drill being worked on was turning the double play. The key piece of information delivered was simple:

    "The average MLB runner gets to first base in 4.35 seconds," said Tony Muser. "Take your time – it is more time than you think."

    Greg Riddoch timed every single play and called out the time after each one to let the fielders know if they turned the double play.

  • The Padres put each of the position players through slide drills on a mat specifically designed for it. It is the only time they use the mat all year.

    Infield instructor Gary Jones told us that it is used to see who needs help with their slides. Even the big league club does the drill each spring. A slide should be done with hands in the air and a leg tucked under.

    Two guys stood out in the needing help department. Justin Baum and Danny Payne used one of their hands to trail the ground behind them as they slid. There was concern that they might jam their wrist by doing that. Both were asked to slide again and will likely undergo more tutoring.

  • Other Notes:

    Second baseman Gabe Lopez, a newcomer, has a strict opposite field approach at the plate. His range is solid in the field but I am not sure he has the bat to stick.

    Gabe DeHoyos looked a bit overweight in the backside. While it is unclear how he was in the past, DeHoyos should have come in prepared to impress his new team. He was slow off the mound and did not look well-conditioned going through drills.

    Payne had a great batting practice session, lighting up the gaps with a smooth stroke. Drew Cumberland also looked solid in his batting practice session.

    Felix Carrasco looked like he was trying too hard to make solid contact, as did Andrew Parrino. Both have been known to overswing in the past.

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