Lake Elsinore Storm Notebook

Lake Elsinore, CA-- Opening Day in Lake Elsinore meant a time for continued instruction in the pre-game. While the staff is still learning the strengths of the team, the Padres feel very good about the rotation with Corey Kluber earning the start after a terrific spring.

  • Roving hitting coordinator Tony Muser was in town for the debut of the 2009 season and stayed busy helping the hitters.

    He was working with Brad Chalk on his ability to hit the ball with backspin and changing the outfielder's thinking on the subject. While the premise of the backswing is to swing down towards the ball, the thinking can actually lead to trouble, including popping the ball up.

    That is the type of thing that isn't being sought. Muser asked Chalk to keep it simple.

    "Don't think ‘down on the ball'", Muser said. "That leads to pop-ups, which is really frustrating. Make sure your hands stay on top of the ball and out."

    The natural plane of ones swing should do the rest. If the hands stay on top of the ball, the bat plane will be on a downward plane as it enters the hitting zone. Then, with the release and follow through, it creates the required backspin being sought.

  • Muser was also on first baseman Felix Carrasco and his penchant for chasing pitches. Muser made the goals attainable.

    Instead of asking Carrasco to make wholesale changes to his swing and thought process, Muser put forth the challenge of making minor and reachable goals that will result in more rewards.

    "One more walk and one less strikeout every seven games played," Muser told Carrasco. "Don't worry about the homers. They will come."

    Carrasco struck out 162 times while drawing 59 walks. Over the course of the season, Carrasco can make a dent into the lofty strikeout totals while also seeing more pitches – the prerequisite for playing in the Padres system.

  • Lake Elsinore manager Carlos Lezcano was more worried about the fundamentals. He caught Andy Parrino out of position on a throw home from center field and helped to line him up with the plate.

    Parrino had drifted off-center and Lezcano was on him for not giving the outfielder a proper target and line to home.

    "Stay in a straight line to home. Don't rely on the guy (backing you up) behind you."

    Parrino understood the error as well as the reason .

  • Corey Kluber tossed nine innings of scoreless ball this spring and allowed just three hits over that span. His tremendous strides since last year, when he struggled with Lake Elsinore, earned him the starting nod.

    "Everything seemed to come together," pitching coach Dave Rajsich said. "He is very poised and balanced with his delivery and his changeup has really improved. The fastball command has gotten better and the confidence. It is all there."

    After a shaky start on Thursday, Kluber ended up pitching relatively well, giving up three runs on three hits over five innings.

  • Kluber is just one part of an impressive rotation that features Wynn Pelzer, Cory Luebke, Jeremy McBryde and Jeremy Hefner.

    It may very well be the best staff any Padres minor league affiliate has touted.

    "The staff is very impressive looking," Rajsich said.

    "I see some very good arms in our starting rotation," Lezcano added. "Hopefully they stay healthy and get better."

  • As for the lineup, the team doesn't have a whole lot of power outside of Carrasco, and he is an unknown given his .237 average last year. Yefri Carvajal has the potential to do damage. Logan Forsythe, who batted cleanup, is a solid all-around hitter but perhaps not a true home run hitter. Justin Baum has pop in his bat as well but has been more of a doubles hitter.

    "I see some speed with our position players," Lezcano said. "We don't have the power we have had in the past."

    Will that force him to change his managing tactics?

    "Chalk can run a little bit. Payne can run a little bit. We have Perry. We will hit-and-run and steal some more and go from there. You manage the people you have."

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