Spring Training Notebook X

Peoria, AZ: Perhaps the hardest thing to do in any sport is to get the adrenaline going to face your own teammates. On Wednesday, the San Diego Padres geared up for three intrasquad during a camp day. Also, a Simon Castro bullpen session and video of the Fort Wayne TinCaps championship ring ceremony.

  • The Fort Wayne TinCaps shared the championship ring ceremony with us so we could pass the momentous occasion on. Fort Wayne general manager Mike Nutter opened the cermoney by offering his thanks to the players. Manager Doug Dascenzo, who has been promoted to Double-A San Antonio, had important words for his troops as well:

    Fort Wayne TinCaps Ring Ceremony

  • Simon Castro tossed a 35-pitch bullpen session that saw him feature excellent command of his two-seam fastball, the usual biting slider and the improved changeup.

    Castro bounced a few changeups – something that happens when he gets long and his plant leg touches down a touch further than normal. With his arm speed staying the same, his release point gets held back that extra tick and results in the ball coming out of his hand too late.

    All in all, the right-hander looked impressive.

    "Always finish with quality pitches," Lake Elsinore pitching coach Dave Rajsich said of his final five pitches. "Like the game is on the line. You don't get a second chance in the game so don't give yourself a second chance when you are here."

  • One of the best sights of the day came from a pitcher that many may have forgotten. A 10th-round pick in 2008 out of Kentucky, Andrew Albers took the mound for live batting practice.

    Albers has undergone two surgeries since appearing in five games with the AZL Padres in 2008. He has missed what equates to two years of action and is still on the road to recovery. It was a positive sign to see the left-hander back on the hill.

    A former teammate of Sawyer Carroll, Albers posted a 7-4 record with a 2.40 ERA across 31 appearances for Kentucky during his final season, striking out more batters than innings pitched and limiting the opposition to a .226 batting average.

    "Today felt pretty good," Albers said. "I faced hitters for the first time and the arm felt pretty good, really fresh and no pain. Hopefully, we can build on that and see how it feels tomorrow. That will be the telling sign. It has been stiff and a little sore afterwards. Today was a great step in the right direction – I am really pleased."

  • Three six-inning "games" occurred on the back fields of the Peoria Sports Complex, pitting teammate vs. teammate in an effort to get more work in.

    It is a tough assignment at this stage in camp with pitchers having to draw upon their focus levels to face guys they know well.

    Some fared better than others at putting who they were facing out of their minds while others had to battle to remain competitive.

    "It's tough to get up for these games," Double-A pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "It is basically a fast-paced batting practice. The adrenaline level is just not the same."

    "The guys rehabbing in Arizona – same thing," Eugene pitching coach Jimmy Jones said. "They are used to such high level of competition that sometimes it is tough for them to get juiced up."

    Cory Luebke fell into the category of not being able to mentally focus. His pitches were not as crisp as the ones he showed in during big league spring training with his fastball riding high in the zone.

    Sent down mere days ago, the southpaw went 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA. He settled in during his last outing, pitching two scoreless innings.

  • Drew Cumberland had a base hit and stole second and third base shortly thereafter. The shortstop seems poised for a big season, especially with the Padres emphasis on being aggressive on the base paths.

    Cumberland was timed at 1.42 seconds from second to third – a time that would make him nearly impossible to catch. He was in the bag by a wide margin before the throw.

    Cameron Monger doubled on a fastball off Mexican left-hander Juan Oramas, clubbing the ball into left-center. He then went on to steal third base in a close play.

  • Corey Kluber pitched well, earning praise from the staff. The right-hander has had games during the season where he looks like a big leaguer and others where he does not. Finding that consistency is key.

    "He has such good stuff," Abbott said. "He pitched well."

  • Brandon Gomes was also dirty. Anthony Contreras did a great job laying off his plus splitter after a quick two strikes but ended up popping out on a 2-2 pitch. Gomes worked ahead in the count and struck out one.
  • Anthony Bass also flashed his plus stuff. The right-hander was so good that he was given an extra batter – a fourth out – during one inning. He needed just 11 pitches to get through that frame unscathed, striking out the last man for extra measure.

    Bass appears to be in fine form this spring and his deceptive delivery continues to be a challenge for hitters. He throws low-90s but his fastballs plays much higher.

    "Bass was really sharp," Rajsich said. "And then we give him a fourth out and he strikes that guy out. I would have left him in for six outs."

  • Wynn Pelzer also looked good, tossing 16 pitches. The movement of his two-seamer is good that it is a wonder hitters get any wood. Coming in low-90s, he is deadly when his control is working in tandem.
  • Jon Berger worked into some deep counts after starting out ahead with first-pitch strikes. He has a plus changeup but was not able to effectively locate his fastball consistently, giving the hitters an advantage.
  • Mitch Canham gunned down a runner attempting to steal second base at one point. He had fast reactions and used excellent footwork to make the throw. The ball was a tad to the right of the bag and the fielder made a good tag.

    "That guy works incredibly hard at whatever he does," roving catching instructor Duffy Dyer said.

  • Sawyer Carroll was the lone player to get to left-hander Pedro Hernandez, smacking a sharp single up the middle. Carroll used his smarts to take advantage of the situation presented.

    "He threw me a 3-2 fastball," Carroll said. "I knew with two outs that he wasn't going to try and walk me. I am still working on some things – it is still spring – but it was good to get a hit.

    "I have been hitting a lot of balls hard – at people."

    Carroll was, however, picked off on the very next play.

    "We are trying to run more as an organization," he said. "I think they know we are running too, and it was a lefty. I went first move and worked on my jump – that is why we aren't keeping score in spring training."

    Hernandez was relatively sharp, shutting down hitters with his plus changeup and fastball command.

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