Spring Training Notebook XII

Peoria, AZ: San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell had advice for the minor league prospects, as he spent an afternoon watching games during the team's Tucson trip. One player won't be ready for the season. Another is in great shape.

  • Heath Bell sat behind the dish for the first few innings of the Low-A minor league game last Monday, chit-chatting with Matt Lollis who was charting for the first time in his career.

    Keyvius Sampson came up to Bell and asked him for some advice as a first year player. Bell, an undrafted free agent who was traded by the Mets before getting a real chance with the Padres, was happy to oblige. Bell asked if Sampson was a reliever or starter and if this was his first full season and then began with dispensing advice.

    "The best thing to do is get tired and then work on your mechanics," Bell told Sampson. "Do it when you are tired. When you master that, especially as a starter, you will do just fine.

    "As you go into a game and go deeper, you will be able to muster it up for one more pitch. Each subsequent pitch is, ‘ok, just one more pitch.' Learn good breathing techniques. It relaxes you.

    "Also, learn your shoulder and arm routine. This is where it starts. When you are asked to do eight poles (running) the day after a start – do ten. You are in for five months of baseball. We have two more months of baseball. You need that extra bit of stamina. When you are dogging it in August, we still have another month to go and we came to spring a month earlier than you."

    Advice that means something. It is up to Sampson to follow it now.

  • Jeremy McBryde has suffered from elbow tendonitis and has not taken the field to participate in any drills – the trainer's room is all he knows.

    The right-hander received a cortisone shot, and the Padres are waiting to see how he responds to that treatment before making future plans.

    McBryde will not be ready for the start of the season and may miss a significant chunk of time if he does not respond to the latest treatment path.

  • Adam Zornes spent the offseason working on strengthening the muscles around his shoulder to help add fuel to his throws to second base.

    People in the organization have noticed.

    "You didn't throw that way last year," former Fort Wayne and current San Antonio manager Doug Dascenzo said. "You look rested and ready to go."

    Zornes threw out 24-of-96 base runners attempting to steal off him last year in Fort Wayne, good for 25 percent. He is eyeing an improvement in that arena. Zornes feels his mechanics are fine but the accuracy and strength of his arm were not where he expected them to be.

  • The players routinely go through batting practice with a situational approach in mind. On Friday, the hitters were sitting in a 2-0 count looking for a pitch to drive. That kind of mental play helps many of the prospects when game time comes.

    "An aggressive count," one coach said. "I hope no one is passive."

    It hasn't been a big deal for some of the line drive type hitters to adjust to the mentality. The bigger sluggers who have patience are the ones that are seeing the most adjustment time to the new aggressive approach.

    As Allan Dykstra said, "We have gone from a patiently aggressive approach to an aggressively patient approach." Dykstra has been too passive at times and is still determining where the balance is. His narrow focus is a positive, but he also understands that he needs to be ready to hit in all counts rather than just watching pitches go by.

  • With a night game last Friday for the San Diego Padres, manager Bud Black came out to watch Adys Portillo and Jerry Sullivan pitch. He gave a few nods to the performance turned in by Portillo.
  • Jorge Reyes had shoulder pain at the end of minicamp and was shutdown for a brief period of time. He returned to the mound and has tossed a pair of bullpen sessions - one seeing him toss 45 pitches.

    Reyes reported no soreness from the throwing sessions and is eager to face live hitters. Reyes has been assigned to the Double-A team and will break camp with Lake Elsinore – taking the spot of McBryde who will begin the year on the disabled list.

  • During all interviews, prospects are asked which hitter they would are thankful they have on their team or who they would like hitting behind them.

    Thus far, Logan Forsythe may lead all hitters mentioned with his pitch selection and ability to do multiple things. Sawyer Carroll is close behind with Jaff Decker in the mix because of their ability to do damage and work the count. Both are highly regarded by pitchers and hitters alike.

    On the pitching front, prospects are asked what pitch they would like to have in their arsenal or which pitcher they are glad is a teammate.

    Simon Castro, not unexpectedly, has been mentioned by many because of his wipeout slider. Wynn Pelzer also is highly ranked with his two-seam fastball, and Brandon Gomes leads all relievers with his splitter.

  • The pitchers were in for a treat in a recent workout – pitching coach Bronswell Patrick smashing balls right up the gut for the pitchers to field. A few got smacked in the chest and leg with Miles Mikolas collecting one in the ribs to make a play.

    "You got to body up," Mikolas said to a laughing crew of other pitchers.

  • Brad Chalk had the lone RBI for the Double-A squad on Friday, notching a ground out to score a run in a 2-1 loss. The team managed just four hits on the afternoon.
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