Padres Instructional League Notebook I

PEORIA, AZ- Matt Bush and Nick Schmidt – one positive and a small setback. A third undergoes surgery. Two players arrive early for their work. A 16-year-old just three years away from the majors? One coach thinks so. Base running is a hot topic.

  • Matt Bush felt some discomfort in his arm this week and backed off on his rehab process. It was a tender triceps from the workload he has gone under but his pitches have been crisp during bullpens and in games.

    He has been doing well with his rehab and the soreness isn't anything serious. He was supposed to pitch as early as Friday but that has been pushed back to early next week.

    "I am happy to be on the mound going at it again," Bush said. "I know I have to take it slow and let my body tell me when I can throw."

    Bush also hinted that he could end up going to the Dominican Republic for their Instructional League in November.

  • Speaking of rehab, Nick Schmidt took the hill on Thursday and threw 25 pitches in a simulated game.

    The left-hander appeared to have his full arsenal of pitches and his changeup proved to be a plus pitch. He got several batters swinging over top of the pitch, including Jaff Decker.

    His command was still a little off and Decker tattooed a pitch into the deepest part of centerfield.

    All in all, it was a successful outing for Schmidt.

  • Chad Huffman and Mike Baxter were among the early arrivals in anticipation of the Arizona Fall League. Their first official practice with the squad came on Thursday but both came in early to get in the cages and perform early work in the field.

    Baxter has been working out with the catchers and caught a simulation game for the first time earlier this week.

    "I am into it," Baxter said of his catching duties. "Whatever they need me to do, I am all for it."

  • Dominican Summer League pitching coach Luis Amancio has been extremely impressed with Adis Portillo.

    Without flinching, Amancio stated, "I think he can be in the major leagues in three years."

    If that is true, it would put Amancio in the majors at the tender age of 19. Amancio said Portillo has shown poise and command of three quality pitches.

    He was also high on Pedro Hernandez, noting that he has a great body and should get stronger to add velocity. Even if he doesn't, Amancio believes he can still pitch in the big leagues because "he has fastball command and a great changeup."

  • Early work was dedicated to base running, as the Padres are stressing aggressiveness on the bases and not taking any ball hit into the field of play for granted.

    Gary Jones worked with a select set of quicker outfielders and infielders on taking quality leads off the bag. He stressed doing so with both feet facing forward so a quick transition back to the bag could be made.

    "You should be five to seven feet off the bag every time," Jones implored. "Then get in a relaxed stance."

    One player had crossed one leg behind the other while taking his lead but Jones noted that there is no leverage to get back to the base in that position. If the ball is thrown to first while in that particular position, you would leave yourself open to being caught since it is impossible to drive off one of your legs to get back to the bag. An extra step would be needed to make that happen and by that time the ball will be in the first baseman's glove.

    Jones also herded all the players who were not playing in the game and worked on thinking double on every ball hit into the outfield. His thought process is to take an aggressive turn and make the fielder hurry – giving him a greater chance to create an error.

  • Will Startup underwent Tommy John surgery several weeks ago and his arm is still in a stabilizing device. He is off the medication and the rehab process will truly begin this coming spring.

    The southpaw had avoided surgery through the year but the pain would not dissipate. He did not pitch during the 2008 season.

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