Padres Instructional League Notebook VI

PEORIA, AZ- Sean Kazmar and Will Venable benefited from work in January with Jim Lefebvre. What are the plans for the coming season and how does Lefebvre feel about the hitting coach opening? Euclides Viloria is progressing while a position player has minor surgery. First-pitch swinging as it relates to the San Diego Padres is in the news, and there is a reason.

  • San Diego Padres minor league hitting consultant Jim Lefebvre has had his name bandied about in connection with the big league hitting coach job with the Friars, but his focus has been on helping the hitters he sees coming through Arizona.

    Lefebvre was instrumental in helping Sean Kazmar and Will Venable this past season, bringing both players out to Arizona in January and assisting them in shoring up their swings.

    "Coming in, they sat me down and told me what they wanted me to accomplish this year as far as my approach goes at the plate," said Kazmar of his work with Lefebvre. "Understanding which pitch I can drive the other way and which pitches to lay off early in the count."

    "We wanted to get me a good base and work from the ground up to be in an athletic position to let it loose and strike the ball," Venable said of his time with Lefebvre. "I think we found it with a lot of hard work, but we figured it out."

    Looking ahead to the beginning of 2009, Lefebvre sees that type of localized coaching expanded to include more prospects.

    "We want to invite everyone to our facility here and let them know we will be happy to help them," he said.

    While it is a voluntary invite, the belief is by starting early the Padres can breed good habits throughout the season – pulling from the success that Kazmar and Venable saw.

    As for the job opening in San Diego, Lefebvre is listening.

    "If the offer was right, of course I would be interested," Lefebvre said.

    Rumor is he is among the frontrunners for the position.

  • Euclides Viloria is roughly five months out from surgery after going under the knife to his throwing shoulder in late April and is well into his throwing program now.

    He is throwing from 40-feet and that number will increase in the coming weeks. Viloria is on schedule to return to the mound in Spring Training and much happier these days after getting his shoulder taken care of.

    "I need to be healthy first and then will work on commanding the fastball," Viloria said.

    The left-hander missed all of 2008 after dominating the Arizona Rookie League the season before, among the top three in strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

  • Also on the injury front, shortstop Cole Figueroa underwent a minor knee surgery on his right knee and will be limited for the next week before he can begin strengthening the leg again.

    He will be at 100 percent for Spring Training.

  • The recent news in San Diego had centered around the Padres affinity towards allowing the first pitch of an at-bat to go by without a swing.

    It is a stat they track religiously, and there is a reason to their madness.

    In five of their seven affiliates, the Padres average when first-pitch swinging was less than .200.

    The worst offender in the entire minor league system was Edgar Gonzalez (minor league stats only). Ironically, he was one of the few with enough bat control to do well, hitting .333 in such situations when he swung at the initial offering.

    Most players barely touched the .150 average mark when hacking away at the first pitch.

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