Padres Instructional League Notebook I

Peoria, AZ: The message doesn't change much but Tuesday, the players were given the perfect embodiment of what the San Diego Padres are stressing in the development of their minor league prospects.

  • The pre-workout pep talk given to the position players centered on catcher Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.

    Mauer – emphasizing again – a catcher – led the American League in hitting.

    "He plays the most demanding position on the field, squatting for nine innings and handling all of his responsibilities," minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa explained. "But, if you look at him in the batter's box, he is so relaxed.

    "He knows how to slow the game down and is so totally relaxed. Watch him once and you can see why his pitch selection is so good.

    "A relaxed muscle is a quick muscle just as a tense muscle is a slow muscle. You infielders know exactly what I mean when you are out fielding.

    "Look at how soon he gets his foot down. Watch him play. He slows the game down and never over swings."

    The message, imparted to his minor league players, was evident. Don't try and do too much.

    There is no benefit in speeding up your swing. By staying relaxed with a solid approach, letting the ball travel deep, you will have success because you are prepared.

  • Outfielder Blake Tekotte and second baseman Jeudy Valdez were schooled in the art of base stealing with Doug Dascenzo on Tuesday morning.

    Dascenzo was giving them pointers on all of the techniques he used and has learned through the years, including not tipping when he would steal, eyeing everything about the pitcher – even in the dugout – and knowing your own lead.

    "Any little thing you can pick up before the game starts – such as a high leg kick on his slide step – can help you," Dascenzo said.

    He ran both through a drill that required them to take a lead without looking. Marked on the field were the maximum leads set by Tekotte and Valdez. With a hand covering their eyes, Tekotte and Valdez went through their normal process of acquiring a lead. The goal, as Dascenzo pointed out, was to ensure you are looking at the pitcher and not the steps you, as the base runner, need to take to establish your lead.

    "You always have your eyes on the pitcher," Dascenzo said. "And you should be getting out with your lead as soon as the pitcher looks in to get the signs. You don't want to be caught trying to take a lead while he is in his windup."

    Tipping a potential steal was also a point of emphasis.

    "Everyone is watching you. Same lead, same pace, same time. They will pick it up if you go slower one time and speed it up the next – don't give them anything that tips off you are running. Same lead, same pace, same time – this way they won't know when you are running."

  • James Darnell was sent home on Tuesday and has not been able to participate in baseball activities. The third baseman has battled through back pain since the playoffs began in Lake Elsinore, explaining his absence in that series.

    Jackson Quezada has progressed to the point of throwing off a mound, something he said will happen for the first time on Friday.

    "I have been throwing long toss without pain and am scheduled to throw a bullpen on Friday," Quezada said.

    He will be re-evaluated after the bullpen session. Quezada missed the entire 2009 season.

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