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Despaigne continues dominance of Giants

Cuban rookie cruises through seven; Padres pounce early

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SAN DIEGO -- To the untrained eye, it certainly looked as if Padres starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne threw a gem on Friday night against the Giants, allowing two hits over seven innings in a 5-0 victory.

But from the top step of the dugout, Padres manager Bud Black, a former pitcher and pitching coach, always armed with a discerning eye for detail, saw something a little different.

"He threw seven shutout innings ... but there were a lot of 3-2 and 2-0 counts, and the ball-strike ratio wasn't great," Black said. "You can tell they [Giants] were off-balanced. He did enough to keep them thinking all the time."

And, in the end, that was enough for Black and the Padres (72-81), who took the opener of a three-game series from the Giants (84-69) before a crowd of 34,472 at Petco Park.

Despaigne, who made his Major League debut against these same Giants on June 23, walked just one and struck out six while getting nine ground-ball outs. In three starts against San Francisco this season, he allowed one earned run in 20 innings.

"Every time I face a team like the Giants, I know I have to bring my best game," Despaigne said through an interpreter. "This is the third time I've faced them. I have a good idea how to pitch those guys."

While Despaigne (4-7) first impressed and had success in June and early July with a bevy of breaking pitches, grips and arms angles, he's had more success of late relying on fastball command. That was again the case Friday, with a dash of the changeup and breaking ball.

"We kept trying to attack with the fastball and then come back and make a good off-speed pitch," said Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Despaigne's 16 starts in the big leagues have certainly been a mixed bag. He's been good at times and struggled at others. He has a 1.83 ERA at Petco Park and a 5.31 ERA on the road.

"He started off well, he threw a lot of pitches for strikes and then teams started making adjustments and started attacking him instead of him attacking them," Grandal said. "Now, he's executing pitches ... and he's executing his game. From now on, it's them adjusting to him."

The Padres roughed up Giants pitcher Tim Hudson early on, as Alexi Amarista and Cameron Maybin had big hits in a four-run first inning. Amarista had a two-run double, giving him 10 RBIs in his last seven games. Maybin followed with a two-run single.

All told, Hudson (9-12) allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

With the loss, the Giants fell further back of the Dodgers in the National League West. The Dodgers, who clinched a playoff berth on Friday, are 3 1/2 games ahead. The Pirates are now only one game back of the Giants in the NL Wild Card race and hold the tiebreaker for home-field advantage in the one-game showdown.

Now is not the time, manager Bruce Bochy agreed, for the offense to go cold. On Friday, the offense had just three hits, two by Joe Panik.

"We're struggling. There's no question about it," Bochy said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Top Draft pick Turner takes in Petco Park

No. 13 overall selection made rapid progress over 69 games in Minor Leagues

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SAN DIEGO -- When the Padres used the No. 13 overall pick in June on shortstop Trea Turner, they were no doubt hoping he would arrive at Petco Park sooner than later.

But Friday afternoon?

Sure enough, Turner was at Petco Park on Friday, though the 21-year-old, with 69 professional games under his belt, was just here to take batting practice and field ground balls while the front-office staff and manager Bud Black got a look at him.

"It's good for the young man and a perk for him," Black said. "He made strides as the summer went on, which is a great sign. We're exposing him to a lot of things."

Turner, who posted a .323/.406/.448 line between two Minor League stops, will next head to Arizona in October to play in the Arizona Fall League among baseball's top prospects. For now, the North Carolina State product was content with his weekend in San Diego with his girlfriend and family.

"It's awesome being here," he said.

Turner hit .228 with short-season Eugene in 23 games before he was promoted to Class A Fort Wayne, where he flourished, hitting .369 with a .447 on-base percentage in 216 plate appearances with four home runs, 22 RBIs and 14 steals. Defensively, he made three errors in 36 games at shortstop.

"A lot of ups and downs," Turner said of his first professional season. "It started off a little rough but I started to figure it out a little bit; how to play the game, how to make adjustments. I started slow then started to get in a groove and hit some balls harder, and I think I took that into Fort Wayne."

Turner, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 175 pounds, talked about getting stronger in the offseason, though not at the cost of losing his agility and one of his best assets -- his speed.

"There's a fine line. Obviously, you want to gain some weight and get stronger so you don't wear down and lose weight and maybe drive the ball a little more," Turner said. "But I want to keep the speed and stay quick. That's a big part of my game, maybe the biggest part."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cashner bringing heat into matchup with Giants

Petit gets nod for NL Wild Card leaders; Cashner on roll for Padres

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The Giants remain alone atop the National League Wild Card standings, and on Saturday evening at Petco Park, starter Yusmeiro Petit will try to keep them there.

Petit gets the ball against the Padres with his team leading the NL Wild Card race by one game over Pittsburgh and trailing the Dodgers by 3 1/2 games in the NL West.

Since replacing Tim Lincecum in the starting rotation on Aug. 28, Petit has gone 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA in four starts. He's coming off a loss to the Dodgers in which he allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits in seven innings, striking out eight.

Petit, 5-4 with a 3.64 ERA overall, has 118 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings this season.

"He knows the hitters' mentality," catcher Andrew Susac said. "He does a good job of establishing down in the zone, not necessarily the corners. He's got that decent fastball, and the way he comes after you with his body, it makes it very deceptive. He knows that, and that's why he strikes out a lot of hitters with the fastball."

For the Padres, the season is winding down, but you can bet that Andrew Cashner would just as soon keep on pitching.

Cashner, who starts opposite Petit in the second meeting of a three-game series, is coming off a gem against the Phillies on Monday, when he needed just 92 pitches to complete a two-hit shutout.

It was Cashner's second shutout of the season. The first came in April against the Tigers, before the first of two disabled list stints -- the first for elbow soreness (20 games missed) and then shoulder soreness (51 games).

But against the Phillies, Cashner looked electric.

"Fastball, slider, changeup," said Padres manager Bud Black. "You saw 92 to 97 [mph], movement with his fastball. You saw his slider, a couple of curveballs. He pitched."

Cashner lowered his season ERA to 2.20 and is scheduled to make one more start after Saturday.

Giants: McCovey hospitalized for infection
Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey was hospitalized in the Bay Area last week for complications from an infection, the club confirmed Friday in a statement.

"His recovery is progressing every day," the statement said. "The Giants remain in close contact with Willie and his family and urge all fans to keep Willie in their thoughts as he recovers."

Pitching coach Dave Righetti, who grew up in San Jose rooting for the Giants, summarized the enduring significance of McCovey and fellow franchise legend Willie Mays. Both former sluggers continue to attend nearly every home game.

"Any time we don't see either Mac or Mays for a while, we wonder what's going on and are they doing OK. That's just a general feeling you always get because you're so used to seeing them," Righetti said. "Hopefully everything's going OK [for McCovey] and it's just a minor setback. They're icons. They're the symbols of the San Francisco Giants and always will be. Those guys are the pillars. Anytime they're not doing well, we're not doing well."

Padres: Top pick Turner takes in Petco
Shortstop Trea Turner, the No. 13 overall Draft pick in June, was at Petco Park on Friday. The 21-year-old, with 69 professional games under his belt, was there to take batting practice and field ground balls while the club's staff got a look at him.

"It's good for the young man and a perk for him," Black said. "He made strides as the summer went on, which is a great sign. We're exposing him to a lot of things."

Turner, who posted a .323/.406/.448 line between two Minor League stops, will next head to Arizona in October to play in the Arizona Fall League among baseball's top prospects. For now, the North Carolina State product was content with his weekend in San Diego with his girlfriend and family.

"It's awesome being here," he said.

Worth noting
• Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko's 10-game hitting streak is a career best, surpassing the eight-game run he had from May 26-June 3 in 2013.

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres finalize player development contracts

Club extends deal with Lake Elsinore and inks new agreement with Tri-Cities

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SAN DIEGO -- The Padres finalized their two remaining player development contracts for their Minor League affiliates on Friday. San Diego extended its agreement with Class A Lake Elsinore through 2016 and announced that the club has signed a new PDC with Tri-Cities of the short-season Northwest League through '16.

The Padres' Northwest League affiliate had been playing in Eugene, Ore., since 2001. They have had their California League affiliate in Lake Elsinore -- about one hour north of San Diego -- since 2001.

"Having our [Class A] affiliate so close to San Diego has proven to be a huge asset to both our player development staff and also to our fans, who have the opportunity to visit The Diamond and see our future Major Leaguers in action," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller in a statement.

"[Lake Elsinore owner] Gary Jacobs and [owner/president] Dave Oster run one of the finest organizations in Minor League Baseball. We are excited to continue our relationship with the Storm."

The Padres' 14-year partnership has been highlighted by a pair of league championships in 2001 and '11, as well as four division titles ('01, '05, '07 and '11). The Storm have reached the playoffs nine times in the past 10 seasons.

As for Tri-Cities, which will play its games in Pasco, Wash., the Dust Devils had been affiliated with the Rockies since their inception in 2001. San Diego previously headquartered its short-season operations there from 1970-72 with the Tri-City Padres.

During the Padres' original three-year stint in the Tri-Cities, the club produced 15 future Major Leaguers, including 1976 Cy Young Award winner and Padres Hall of Famer Randy Jones, who made his professional debut with the club during the '72 season.

Previously, San Diego extended its PDCs with Triple-A El Paso, Double-A San Antonio and Class A Fort Wayne.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres pound Phillies to secure win for Erlin

Lefty makes first start since May; Amarista, Venable belt homers

Padres pound Phillies to secure win for Erlin play video for Padres pound Phillies to secure win for Erlin

SAN DIEGO -- Robbie Erlin made his first Major League start in four months and a day on Thursday night, and he didn't just feel energized after the Padres topped the Phillies, 7-3.

As it turns out, Erlin felt something else altogether.

"Fresh and rested," he joked.

Erlin, who had his season halted by a long disabled list stint, allowed one run in six innings as the Padres took three of four games from the Phillies (70-83).

Erlin, the crafty left-hander, allowed five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He got eight ground-ball outs and looked very much like the pitcher the Padres (71-81) were excited about in Spring Training -- and also April and part of May, before he was felled by left elbow soreness that caused him to miss 75 games.

"This was more like what we saw in April and May," said Padres manager Bud Black. "His arm is good … his elbow is fine. Tonight, he threw with conviction."

Erlin (4-4) got the start in place of Tyson Ross, who has a sore right arm and might not pitch again this season. That hasn't been determined, but Black indicated there's a very good chance that Erlin will get another start.

That all sounds simply wonderful to Erlin, who is embracing being healthy and getting another chance to start in the big leagues after working his way back through Minor League rehab stints to get to this point.

"I kept looking forward," he said.

He gave up a few "loud" outs along the way, as Darin Ruf lined out to left fielder Seth Smith in the sixth inning and Maikel Franco hit a sharp grounder to Alexi Amarista at shortstop to end Erlin's outing.

"Defense," Erlin said, smiling. "I was trying to keep the ball down. But again, it was the defense. It was outstanding. It felt good to be back out there again."

Erlin was backed by plenty of offense, as Amarista hit his second home run of the series and drove in two runs. Will Venable broke the game open with a three-run home run in the eighth inning.

"Coming up with the clutch hit or a two-out hit with men on base, the Padres got some of those and they minimized us in those situations," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.

Jedd Gyorko had a single in the fifth inning to extend his career-best hitting streak to nine games while teammate Yasmani Grandal reached base four times -- twice on walks and twice on hits.

The Phillies got an RBI single from Domonic Brown in the fourth inning and then scored two runs in the ninth inning off Tim Stauffer. But by then it was too late.

Philadelphia pitcher Kyle Kendrick (9-13) allowed three runs on six hits in five innings with five walks and two strikeouts.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{} Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Gwynn Jr. forging ahead after his father's passing

Though it's difficult, Hall of Famer's son says he's 'focused on the task at hand'

Gwynn Jr. forging ahead after his father's passing play video for Gwynn Jr. forging ahead after his father's passing

SAN DIEGO -- For Tony Gwynn Jr., there hasn't been much time to mourn. The baseball season has a pace and presence to it that demands staying in the present and not reflecting on the past. There are signs and stories and memories of his famous father everywhere. Gwynn Sr., the Hall of Fame right fielder and eternal Padre, passed away June 16 at age 54 after a long battle with cancer of the salivary gland.

While the public took stock of the loss, it hit the family hardest, as always.

"This year has been really hard. It's still hard for me at this point," said Gwynn Jr., in town with the Phillies this week for a four-game series at Petco Park. "The key for me is just trying to go day to day and enjoy the day, the now, because I don't know what God has planned. I found that delving into the past too much can be a hindrance. That's probably been the hardest part for me, not dwelling too much in the past.

"Obviously, I have so many memories of my pops, I'm not going to forget them or lose them. But when you lose someone like that, your first instinct is to grab on to those memories and hold them as tight as you can and keep shoveling through them as much as you can. Suddenly, you find yourself not doing what you're supposed to be doing during the day."

There will be time for all of that, he knows, when the season ends. He can stop and reflect and try moving forward with his baseball career. This is only the second time Gwynn Jr. has been home since the funeral at the Student Union on the campus of San Diego State on June 21. Gwynn Sr. never played a game at Petco Park. His last game came at the end of the 2001 season across town at Qualcomm Stadium, the ballpark where the Padres played for his entire 20-year career.

But that hardly matters.

"He was instrumental in this being built," said Gwynn Jr., who had a short stint with Padres himself in 2009-10 and played the outfield at Petco.

Talk about reminders, the ballpark that opened in 2004 is located on the corner of K Street and Tony Gwynn Drive. The Gwynn statue in the Park beyond the right-center-field bleachers is a popular destination. The younger Gwynn has never seen the statue and found it was too difficult for him the take the trek out there this week.

"I haven't yet. I haven't yet," he said. "I'll probably do it in the offseason when I have more time."

The memories spin on. Taking a walk with his dad through Monument Park at the old Yankee Stadium as a 16-year-old the day before Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, playing a few seasons for him at San Diego State where Gwynn Sr. was the head coach from 2003 until his death, the drive across the desert his father took to see his son play in the Major Leagues for the first time after Gwynn Jr. was called up to the Brewers in 2006.

"Those are good memories to hold on to," Gwynn Jr. said. "Anything regarding my dad's baseball career, I generally remember like it was yesterday."

Particularly, now that the phone calls have forever stopped. The two were always close, speaking regularly until his dad became too sick to participate.

He was his father, coach and spiritual advisor, talking about everything from hitting to family to baseball to life. The last time Gwynn Jr. saw his father alive was just prior to joining the Phillies as a non-roster invitee this past February. By then, he knew the illness was growing dire. Gwynn Sr. had spent Christmas week in intensive care. For the first time in his career, Gwynn Jr. donned his dad's retired No. 19, and he still wears it in his honor.

The last time he had a conversation on the phone with him was this past spring.

"The last real talk I had with him was right after our series in New York [on May 11]," Gwynn Jr. said. "The bus ride home from that series was the last time I had a real conversation with him. From then on, he gradually couldn't talk. That was difficult in itself. We talked every other day from the time I started playing professional baseball. To not be able to talk to him was a real adjustment."

From then on, it was calls to his mom, Alicia, who would relay the messages. Even on Father's Day, the day before his dad died, Gwynn Jr. was only able to ask his mom to give him his well wishes.

"I told my mom to tell him I'd look forward to speaking with him at a time when he could talk," he said. "But I never got the chance, obviously. He passed the next day."

Even now, Gwynn Jr. says he can't fathom the fact he no longer can pick up the phone and reach his dad.

"It's super weird," he said. "I still have about 28 messages on my phone that I can't -- I haven't been able to bring myself to go through them yet. It's just like reliving that day."

Time marches on, though. On Tuesday, Gwynn Jr. was back in the starting lineup, leading off and in center field. When he saw the lineup card, he immediately called his mom, who lives in nearby Poway, and asked her to attend the game. She hadn't been back to Petco since the public memorial service on June 26. As her son went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, she sat in the stands.

"I think for her, that was a big thing," Gwynn Jr. said. "She's starting to turn the corner."

Gwynn Jr. said he began to turn the corner after the Phillies released him this summer and re-signed him to a Minor League contract. At 31 and with the rest of his life ahead of him, Gwynn Jr. realized he had to do what ballplayers do best: compartmentalize. That's what his dad would have wanted: "Hey, don't worry about me"

"When I went back to [Triple-A] Lehigh, that's when I realized I have to start being in the now, especially if I'm going to continue to play baseball," he said. "Baseball is not a sport where you can have your brain split in two different areas. You have to be 100 percent focused on the task at hand. I want to keep playing, no doubt. I know when I'm not dealing with these kinds of issues off the field, I'm a pretty good big league ballplayer. It's just rebooting the system this year and starting over."

His dad would have been proud.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres eliminated from postseason with loss

Stults retires 12 straight Phillies before exiting in rough fifth inning

Padres eliminated from postseason with loss play video for Padres eliminated from postseason with loss

SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't difficult at all to pinpoint exactly where Padres' pitcher Eric Stults' start veered off the rails Wednesday, but it was far more perplexing why it happened when it did.

Stults went into the fifth inning after retiring the last 12 consecutive batters he faced before running into a buzzsaw that ended his night prematurely and the left Padres reeling after a 5-2 setback to the Phillies before a crowd of 17,311 at Petco Park.

With the loss, the Padres (71-80) were eliminated from postseason play.

To be sure, it's been a vexing season for Stults (7-17), who scuffled in the first half but had pitched much better since the All-Star break, posting a 3.66 ERA in his last 10 starts going into Wednesday.

Stults allowed a leadoff single to Ben Revere and then set down the next 12 hitters before the bottom fell out in the fifth inning, as the first four Phillies (70-82) reached base on singles, including a two-run poke up the middle by Freddy Galvis for a 2-1 lead.

"Four sharp innings then some balls found some holes," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Some sharp-hit grounders, but a bunch of singles. You look at the line and it will say four runs in four and a third … but I thought he threw the ball well."

After a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Cole Hamels -- who did better things with his left arm -- Revere followed with a two-run double for a 4-1 lead. One minute, Stults was rolling. The next, he was reeling.

"It happened pretty quickly," Stults said. "It was just one of those innings where some balls found some holes. I didn't execute pitches quite as well. There was probably some good hitting on their part, too. It just didn't go my way."

That wasn't the case for his counterpart, though.

Hamels, the San Diego native, improved to 9-2 in 16 career starts against the Padres by allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings. He walked one, struck out nine and also lowered his ERA to 2.47.

"He's awfully tough," Black said. "He's not third in the league in ERA for nothing. He's getting better."

The Padres had some hard contact at times against Hamels, like in the fourth inning when they got to him for a run as Tommy Medica had the second of his two singles, stole second base and then scored when Cameron Maybin singled to center field.

"We ran some good at-bats up there and hit some balls hard right at someone. What did we have, nine hits? It seemed like we had guys on base but then they just sort of disappeared," Medica said.

That can happen when Hamels is pitching, especially in his native San Diego, where he's now 5-1 at Petco Park.

"He's been solid, even when he's not at his best," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. "He was behind in the count a lot of the game, especially the last three innings. But his changeup was real effective when he was behind in the count. He seems to find a way. He has a lot of weapons. Something usually works, if not everything."

The Padres got a run in the ninth inning off reliever Ken Giles as Alexi Amarista knocked in Maybin, but that was as close as the game got.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres, Fort Wayne extend affiliation through 2016

Many current Friars have played for Class A club, which drew 411,028 fans in 2014

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres on Wednesday announced that they have extended their player development contract with Class A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League through the 2016 season.

The Padres have had an affiliate in Fort Wayne since 1999, which is the second-longest affiliation in club history.

"The Midwest League is an important level for our player development, where players first become acclimated to a full season of professional baseball," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said in a statement. "We are fortunate to have such a strong long-term relationship with Fort Wayne."

The TinCaps won the Midwest League title in 2009, and they have made six consecutive trips to the playoffs since that season -- the longest active streak in the 16-team league.

The TinCaps' downtown ballpark, Parkview Field, saw a franchise-record 411,028 fans come through its gates this past season.

"The Padres have the best affiliate in the Midwest League, hands down," said Padres vice president of player development Randy Smith in a statement. "The best fans, a tremendous ballpark at Parkview Field with the best playing surface, along with great ownership and leadership from Jason Freier and Mike Nutter. We are excited to continue our relationship with Fort Wayne."

Of the players on the Padres' active roster, nine went through Fort Wayne during their Minor League careers, including Jedd Gyorko, Will Venable, Tommy Medica, Rymer Liriano, Cory Spangenberg, Dale Thayer, Leonel Campos, Kevin Quackenbush and Frank Garces.

The Padres recently extended their player development contracts with Triple-A El Paso and Double-A San Antonio. The two remaining affiliates without PDCs include advanced Class A Lake Elsinore of the California League and short-season Class A Eugene of the Northwest League.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Kennedy named Padres' nominee for Clemente Award

Pitcher will be recognized during pregame ceremony Wednesday

Kennedy named Padres' nominee for Clemente Award play video for Kennedy named Padres' nominee for Clemente Award

SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Ian Kennedy has been named the Padres' 2014 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet to the Major League play who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

Kennedy is one of 30 club finalists for the annual award. The organization will recognize Kennedy as part of a pregame ceremony on Wednesday -- which is Roberto Clemente Day -- before the Padres take on the Phillies at Petco Park.

Each Club nominates one player to be considered for Award to pay tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

Kennedy's experienced first-hand the challenges that military families face, as his brother-in-law serves in the United States Navy, and Kennedy has seen the impact that multiple deployments have made on his family.

"In San Diego, we are fortunate to be able to support our military service members, but we are given the unique opportunity to serve deployed service members' families whose sacrifice for our country is equally as great," Kennedy said in a statement.

"My wife and I believe 'to whom much is given, much is required.' Treating these families to an evening at the baseball game pales in comparison to the blessings we receive every day from their collaborative service to our country."

This season, Kennedy and his wife, Allison, thanked military families with an evening at the ballpark.

On July 2, the Padres hosted a Care Package Stuffing Party in partnership with Mercury Insurance. Nearly 100 volunteers assembled 1,000 backpacks which were sent to Marines and Sailors from a local military base deployed in Afghanistan. As the event concluded, Kennedy visited with the volunteers, thanking them for their time, signing autographs and taking pictures.

"Since joining the Padres, Ian has made a tremendous impact -- not only on the field, but also in the San Diego Community," said Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler in a statement. "A Southern California native with a strong family connection to the military, Ian understands the importance of the military community to this region. Like the Padres, he takes great pride in recognizing and thanking our service men and women and their families. He is an exceptional role model for younger players."

Beginning Wednesday, fans can participate in the process of selecting the national Roberto Clemente Award recipient by visiting, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 Club nominees. Voting ends on Oct. 6 and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2014 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Benoit could return to closer role for weekend series

Benoit could return to closer role for weekend series play video for Benoit could return to closer role for weekend series

SAN DIEGO -- Closer Joaquin Benoit, who has appeared in just two games since Aug. 14 because of a sore right shoulder, could be cleared to pitch in games again as soon as Friday.

Benoit threw his second bullpen session in four days Wednesday before the Padres faced the Phillies in the third game of a four-game series at Petco Park. He also threw a bullpen Sunday at Chase Field in Phoenix.

"It's a good sign with Joaquin," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Benoit appeared in a game on Aug. 13 and then didn't pitch until Aug. 24 because of a discomfort in his right shoulder. He also pitched on Aug. 26 but the pain and inflammation returned. He hasn't pitched in a game since.

"I think the problem [was] a little workload and [being] a little tired," Benoit said.

Rookie Kevin Quackenbush has been used as the team's closer since then, going 1-0 with three saves and a 2.00 ERA in nine innings.

Black said the team will check to see how Benoit is feeling Thursday and then could list him among the active relievers Friday when the team opens a three-game series at home against the Giants.

In all likelihood, Benoit will slide back into the closer's role, where he converted eight of nine saves and didn't allow an earned run in 10 2/3 innings after the team traded All-Star closer Huston Street to the Angels in July.

Overall, Benoit is 4-2 this season with nine saves and a 1.58 ERA in 51 1/3 innings and 50 games in his first season with the team, the first year of a two-year, $16 million deal.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Amarista's homer helps Padres rally past Phillies

Shortstop misses out on cycle, but go-ahead, two-run shot is key blow

Amarista's homer helps Padres rally past Phillies play video for Amarista's homer helps Padres rally past Phillies

SAN DIEGO -- Alexi Amarista has essentially saved the Padres this season by more than admirably filling in at shortstop for oft-injured Everth Cabrera, as his much-improved defense has surprised coaches, manager and even his teammates.

On Tuesday, his bat caught up with his glove.

Amarista had three hits, including a go-ahead, two-run home run, as the Padres topped the Phillies, 5-4, before a crowd of 24,541 on a sticky night at Petco Park, where the ball maybe got a little extra carry in the warm air.

How far? For Amarista, who is not known for his power, it was just enough.

"That was a huge home run," said Padres manager Bud Black of Amarista, who missed hitting for the first cycle in franchise history by a triple. "He had a big night."

By all accounts, Amarista has had a big season, as he's filled in at third base, second base, the outfield as well as shortstop, where his defense has rated above average. And while he doesn't hit many home runs -- this was, after all, just No. 4 on the season -- he seems to pick good times to do so.

Each of his four home runs have come in victories, all of which have been decided by three or fewer runs -- the first coming on April 6 in Miami when he hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter in a 4-2 victory, a game that Tuesday's starter Ian Kennedy also started.

"I've been the beneficiary of those," Kennedy said. "Having someone fill-in, playing multiple positions … you're going to need those guys. You can't put a price on that. You can tell from talking to him that he has a cool and calm demeanor."

The same wasn't always the case Tuesday for Kennedy (11-13), who took a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning when he walked the No. 7 hitter, Cameron Rupp, with one out, before allowing a home run to Freddy Galvis. Kennedy then walked the next two hitters before getting Chase Utley to fly out.

In all, Kennedy - who also allowed a second-inning home run to Domonic Brown -- threw 36 pitches in that fifth inning for the Padres (70-80).

"I was just falling behind, just missing and there were some borderline calls," said Kennedy, who allowed three hits with four walks and seven strikeouts in six innings. "I was trying to execute my curveball and it was a little below the [strike] zone."

That happened to be the same spot where Burnett (8-17) thought he missed to Amarista with a runner on in the sixth inning. But Amarista was able to drop the bat head on the ball and lift it high in the air -- sending it deep to right field. In April and May, with the marine layer, that ball probably doesn't go out. But Tuesday, it did, sneaking just over the wall in right field for a 4-3 lead.

"He hit a good curveball, down and in," Burnett said.

Jedd Gyorko followed with a RBI single for a 5-3 lead, which would prove important as the Phillies (69-82) got a run in the ninth inning off closer Kevin Quackenbush, who still earned his fourth save.

"I was surprised," Amarista said through an interpreter. "I was happy to see it go out."

So, too, was Black, who has spent the last month or so raving about Amarista's play defensively.

"We knew when we first got him, the Angels' coach said he will never lose you a game in the field," said Black of the trade in May of 2012 that brought Amarista to San Diego. "The last month, he's been as steady as any shortstop in the NL defensively. We've been very impressed by his play."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres remain unsure on Ross' next start

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SAN DIEGO -- There was little clarity to the Tyson Ross situation, as the Padres aren't sure when he will make his next start.

But the team said it could know more by the weekend.

Manager Bud Black said Ross -- who was to start on Thursday against the Phillies -- has a combination of soreness and fatigue in his right arm. On Monday, Black told reporters Ross wouldn't make his next start.

Ross, who would have been in line to make three more starts had he stayed on schedule, will now rest and get treatment for a period of three or four days, Black said, before the team decides if or when he will pitch again.

"The next three to four days are critical in how he responds to treatment," Black said. "We're going to see how he reacts. There's no set time for him to get back on the mound."

In his past two starts, Ross has surrendered seven earned runs, 12 hits, six walks and has struck out 11 over 8 2/3 innings.

Ross is up to a career-high 195 2/3 innings pitched, 44 1/3 beyond his career high from 2012 (73 1/3 innings pitched with Oakland, 78 1/3 innings pitched for Triple-A Sacramento). His 31 starts were tied for the NL lead on Monday.

Robbie Erlin will start on Thursday against the Phillies, his first start with the team since May 17.

"This is an opportunity for Robbie to show what he can do against a Major League lineup," Black said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Cashner sizzles, fires two-hit shutout at Phillies

On humid night in San Diego, righty punches out seven

Cashner sizzles, fires two-hit shutout at Phillies play video for Cashner sizzles, fires two-hit shutout at Phillies

SAN DIEGO -- The weather here the past few days? Absolutely searing, several days' worth of record-breaking heat.

Andrew Cashner on Monday night? Hotter yet.

Heater at 95 mph, swings, misses, changeup at 86, ground balls, zip, zip, zip, hitting one spot after another. In just his fifth start after missing two months with a sore arm, he cut through the Phillies like an Olympic high-diver through the surface of a pool.

In a 1-0 win on an 81-degree night (hey, high humidity, too), Cashner surrendered only two hits, and three total baserunners.

Watching him, you bet Padres manager Bud Black saw no-hit stuff.

"Yeah, once you get into the middle part of the game with any pitcher, especially a guy like Cash, you're thinking that," Black said. "To be quite honest, as a Padre, you're always thinking that."

That last bit was a nod to one of the strangest ongoing phenomenons in the Majors today: The Padres remain the only organization in baseball never to have had a pitcher fire a no-hitter.

"Through the fourth, I thought I had a chance," Cashner said. "I felt I had enough to carry it all the way through."

He zipped through eight innings on just 77 pitches, 59 strikes. In fact, he needed only five pitches to whiz through the eighth. The deeper he went, the easier his degree of difficulty appeared to become.

For a guy who opened the season looking like an ace, closing it like one will go a long way toward camouflaging a season's midsection lost to elbow soreness. Overall, he thought he had better stuff last Sept. 16 when he fired a one-hitter in a 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Thought he had even better stuff than that in a 6-0 win over Detroit this April.

But Monday against Philadelphia, he judged his offspeed stuff better than in either of those two games.

He had no-hit stuff, yes. But, alas, he lost any shot at history in the fifth when Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown pulled the lowdown, dirty, rotten trick of daring to push a one-out bunt down the third-base line.

Of course, it was hard to blame Brown: The Phillies trailed 1-0 at the time. And the Padres went into a heavy shift to defense Brown, putting three infielders between first and second base.

Faced with an enormous, wide-open swatch of real estate toward the left side, what was Brown supposed to do? So he did what a hungry guy does when he opens the fridge late at night and sees a huge hunk of cake. He took it.

Cashner, fully aware that he hadn't allowed a hit, was hot.

"You can ask him what I thought of it," he said.

What did he say?

"We can't talk about that," Brown said in a smooth decision that would make any editor proud.

Though Brown said he probably would not have bunted had it been the ninth inning ("I'm swinging it"), who's to say it's not the right move in a 1-0 game whether it's the fifth or the ninth? It's difficult to fault him. Play the game, they regularly say in clubhouses. And so Brown was.

"This is baseball," Rene Rivera, Cashner's catcher, said. "If you're going to give a guy that side of the infield, why not take your hit? That's the only bad thing about the shift."

Black agreed -- not that the shift is bad, but that it was hard to argue with Brown's strategy.

"He was an All-Star last year with a bunch of home runs and power [27 homers, 83 RBIs]," Black said of Brown, who has only nine homers and 59 RBIs this year. "Our defensive metrics show we're going to shift on this fellow."

Not knowing all of the specifics, Black surmised that Brown probably had decided that he simply didn't have a good feel in the box against Cashner. Which would have put Brown with the majority, not the minority, of Phillies on this night.

"There was more grumbling in the stands than in our dugout," Black said, brushing away any trace of controversy in Brown's decision.

Whatever your feeling, and Cashner admitted he was angry, the key thing for the right-hander was even that couldn't knock him off of his game. Cashner got the next batter, Freddy Galvis, to sky a popup to second base. Perhaps still exuberant from his bit of daredevilry just moments earlier, Brown got such a great jump while attempting to steal on the pitch that he was already around second base and, thus, was easily doubled off.

The only other baserunner Cashner allowed came when Marlon Byrd cracked a leadoff single in the eighth, the one solid hit obtained by the Phillies all night. That, though, was erased almost instantaneously when Byrd attempted to tag and advance when Brown followed with a fly ball to right. Seth Smith fired a strike to nail Byrd at second.

That was the final baserunner Cashner allowed. He blew 96 mph cheese past a completely overmatched Galvis for strike three to start the ninth, then watched shortstop Alexi Amarista short-hop a scorching one-hopper from Grady Sizemore to start a beautiful play for the second out of the inning.

"It doesn't get any better than that," an appreciative Cashner said.

He zipped through eight innings on just 77 pitches, 59 strikes. In fact, he needed only five pitches to whiz through the eighth. The deeper he went, the easier his degree of difficulty appeared to become.

"Fastball, slider, changeup," Black said. "You saw 92 to 97, movement with his fastball. You saw his slider, a couple of curveballs to [Cody] Asche.

"He pitched. With Cash and Rene and Darrin [Balsley, Padres' pitching coach], what they talk about at 5 o'clock, that's pretty good stuff."

How good was Cashner on this night? Bottom of the second inning, Rivera on third with two out following a leadoff double, the pitcher ripped a ground ball toward third that ate up Asche for an E5. That's how Rivera scored the only run.

"If I'm pitching, I don't know, that could have gone either way," Cashner said. "If I'm pitching, I'd like it to be an error. But if I'm hitting, I'd like it to be a hit. I squared it up pretty well."

It was the only moment all night that Cashner couldn't have it every way he wanted it.

Overall, it also was the 17th consecutive start in which Cashner has allowed two or fewer runs at Petco Park, his own personal playpen, dating back to last June 11. It is a franchise record, surpassing Randy Jones' 14 consecutive games from Sept. 2, 1977 through June 24, 1978.

Cashner finished with 92 pitches, 68 for strikes. Sizzling.

Scott Miller is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] } Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Liriano's power, speed makes him intriguing for Padres

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Rymer Liriano was at the San Diego Padres' Dominican Republic baseball academy when the facility opened in 2008. Now, after battling back from Tommy John surgery, he is the first player from the academy to make the Major League club. Liriano made his big league debut on Aug. 11.

The Padres signed Liriano as an international free agent in 2007. He began his career on San Diego's 2008 Dominican Summer League club by hitting .198 in 67 games. Liriano had 267 plate appearances as a 17-year-old and hit nine home runs among his 46 hits. He stole nine bases, being thrown out five times.

Liriano progressed through the Padres' system, and in 2011, he was assigned to Class A Fort Wayne in the Midwest League. He hit .319 with 12 homers and 62 RBIs. Liriano ended the season playing 15 games at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in the California League.

My first extended look at Liriano came in the 2012 Arizona Fall League. That followed a season in which he hit a combined .280 with eight home runs and 61 RBIs playing for Lake Elsinore once again and at Double-A San Antonio.

I came away from Liriano's fall season impressed with his potential as an impact bat. He had 91 at-bats as the Peoria Javelinas' regular right fielder. Liriano had a .319 batting average with five doubles and four home runs. He scored 23 runs, knocked in 15 and stole six bases (he was caught stealing twice). Liriano was among the standout players in the league.

That fall, what I saw daily from Liriano was a rare mix of power and speed tools for a player his size. Along with his potent bat and better-than-average speed for his 6-foot, 230-pound frame, Liriano flashed a much-better-than-average arm from right field. In fact, he threw so hard, his mechanics and velocity may have even contributed to the need for his career-interrupting elbow surgery last year. At the time of his operation, Liriano was ranked the No. 3 prospect in the Padres' organization. He is currently ranked No. 6 on San Diego's Top 20 Prospect list.

Following the conclusion of his Fall League season, I wrote that Liriano reminded me physically of Raul Mondesi, a former big league outfielder with good power and a potent bat. In fact, I have read that comparison often, and it still holds true.

The right-handed-hitting Liriano is seeing regular duty with the big league club. He is scuffling a bit against right-handed pitching as he becomes more accustomed to the higher quality pitching in the Major Leagues.

Liriano has impressive bat speed with quick hands through the ball. He can generate backspin and loft, both important to his home run potential. However, Liriano will become more dangerous when he learns to recognize breaking pitches and becomes more selective at the plate. There are times he tries to muscle the ball out of the park with an aggressive rather than discriminatory approach to pitch selection. Liriano expands the strike zone and in essence, gets himself out. But there is electricity in his bat. The ball makes that special sound on contact. Increasing that solid contact will likely become part of Liriano's future.

Liriano still must convert his raw tools to proven, dependable skills. He is more projection at this point than a finished player. Despite this tough beginning with the parent club, Liriano still figures to offer a potent bat for a team that can use his power and overall offensive ability. In parts of six Minor League seasons, Liriano, 23, has hit .274 with 54 homers and 314 RBIs. He has stolen 172 bases.

Searching for a consistent rhythm in his swing and being able to use solid mechanics to compliment his strength and bat speed are requisite components for Liriano's future. More seasoning is required for him to find a comfort level that helps him make consistent contact and punish pitchers. But Liriano has that potential. He has that ability. It just must be unlocked.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Despaigne, defense falter as Padres lose series

Five-run third, three-run ninth exacerbated by sloppy defense

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PHOENIX -- For as wonderful as it must be for a 20-something rookie to be getting an extended look at the big league level in September, you can imagine the toll the accompanying struggles these players often have can take on a manager.

The Padres completed a vexing nine-game road trip Sunday with an 8-6 loss to the D-backs in front of a crowd of 26,075 at Chase Field, a road trip that saw them score six runs on four different occasions -- and also get shut out three different times.

San Diego manager Bud Black hates losing as much as anyone else, although he's certainly pragmatic enough to know there's a long-term benefit for the players who are afforded opportunities during the final month.

"This is a learning experience for so many players and we're seeing this first-hand in September," Black said. "In the long run, they'll be better off for it. Experience is the best teacher. They are profiting from this experience."

From one day to the next, it's hard to know what to expect from the Padres (68-80), who now head to Petco Park for their final homestand of the season. That's largely because the roster is brimming with young players or low service-time players, including four rookie starters on Sunday.

"That's tough," said Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko, in his second year, and certainly not too far removed from remembering what his first few months in the big leagues were like.

"There are going to be growing pains. It's a process that takes time. But I think we're heading in the right direction."

On Sunday, Padres rookie pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne (3-7) allowed five runs (three earned) in 5 2/3 innings on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. The team didn't play good defense behind him, especially during the D-backs' five-run, third-inning.

Rookie left fielder Cory Spangenberg dropped a fly ball trying to make a running catch. Then two runs scored on a Mark Trumbo single, though he was only credited with one RBI, as a second run crossed home when Amarista's throw went to Despaigne, who was backing up the plate.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal was out in front of the plate and didn't give himself enough time to get into the correct position.

"Yazzy should have gotten back on that ball," Black said.

There were some highlights, though.

Rookie Yangervis Solarte had two hits and scored two runs. Another rookie, Jake Goebbert, also had two hits and knocked in a run. The team bunched together runs in the fourth and ninth innings.

"The biggest thing is recognizing your failure and capitalizing on opportunity," Goebbert said.

Trailing 5-4, the Padres appeared to be in good position to chase the tying run home in the eighth inning as they loaded the bases with one out after a single by Amarista, after pinch-hitter Rene Rivera was hit on his left pinkie with a pitch and when Cameron Maybin singled.

But D-backs reliever Will Harris got rookie Rymer Liriano to look at three called strikes during his at-bat and then struck out Tommy Medica, who couldn't check his swing with two strikes.

The Padres were 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position and, overall, struck out 12 times in the game.

The D-backs tacked on three runs for an 8-4 lead in the eighth inning against Padres reliever Nick Vincent, who saw his scoreless innings streak snapped at 23 1/3 innings, which was the longest active streak among National League relief pitchers.

But the Padres came back with two runs in the ninth inning, as Adam Moore had a pinch-hit double to make it 8-5. Amarista's ground-ball out made it 8-6.

"We do have a lot of younger guys and it's always tough having your first experience at this level, but I think this is all about preparing us for the future," Goebbert said. "I think this is going to help us."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


VP of scouting Welke feels energized in new gig

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PHOENIX -- On Sept. 21, new Padres' vice president of scouting operations Don Welke will turn 72, although he admitted the order of those numbers could just as easily be transposed.

"I feel like I'm 27," Welke said, laughing. "Re-energized is the right word."

Welke is in Arizona this week at the team's Spring Training facility in Peoria with several members of the team's front office staff for the organization's annual instructional league, which began Thursday and runs through Oct. 3.

A total of 44 players, most of the organization's top prospects, are here for instruction as well as games against other organizations' top prospects.

Some of the top Padres in Arizona include pitcher Elliot Morris, infielder Jake Bauers, infielders Dustin Peterson, Jose Rondon and outfielders Michael Gettys and Jordan Paroubeck.

"There are some very interesting players here," Welke said. "We've got to work to develop these guys and also work to accelerate the progress of the gifted players. It's been interesting."

So has Welke's first month on the job. He was hired Aug. 19 from the Rangers, where he worked with new general manager A.J. Preller. The two have a close relationship going back to their days together with the Dodgers.

Welke, who was a special assistant with the Rangers, is involved in the Padres' amateur and professional scouting, foreign scouting and overseeing the Padres' Minor League affiliates. He figures to be around the Major League team more, moving forward.

The first month, he said, has been a blur.

"It's gone great. I've been enjoying it. It's been fast-paced. There's been a lot of meetings so far, getting to know people and learning from them and about them," Welke said.

Welke and Preller have been watching workouts in Peoria in the morning this weekend and then games at Chase Field with the Padres in town for a three-game series against the D-backs.

"The thing that sticks out to me is how much he really likes watching baseball games and the players and talking about the game," said Padres manager Bud Black. "And that could be after a night game … sitting in my office at 11:30 at night and he's still at it. It's great."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Ross off his game as Padres fall to D-backs

Righty allows six runs (four earned) over three frames in tough loss

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PHOENIX -- Tyson Ross is nearing the finish line of a breakthrough season where he made the All-Star team and will eventually top 200 innings and 200 strikeouts, while establishing himself as one of the top starting pitchers in the National League.

That doesn't mean Ross is infallible, though. Not every start can be a quality one, not every outing can be a bonafide gem.

On Saturday night, Ross had a rare misstep as the Padres fell to the D-backs, 10-4, in front of a crowd of 32,429 at Chase Field, though he certainly had some help.

"He's human," said Padres manager Bud Black. "And these games happen."

Ross allowed six runs, four earned, over the first two innings, as two errors behind him didn't help at all as the D-backs built a big lead early and then pulled away late.

The loss -- coupled with the Dodgers' victory over the Giants -- eliminates the Padres from the NL West race.

Ross lasted three innings, his second-shortest start since joining the Padres before last season. His previously shortest outing came on Sept. 12 of last season against the Phillies when he lasted just two-thirds of an innings.

Ross allowed five hits with two walks and four strikeouts and needed 58 pitches to get nine outs.

"He didn't have very good location early," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. "We laid off some good pitches. I thought we had a pretty good approach. ... We came out very aggressive tonight."

On Saturday, Ross struggled to find command of his wipeout slider early on and allowed three runs in the first inning and three more runs in the second inning. Mark Trumbo put the D-back on top with a two-run single in the first, the first of his three hits. He also knocked in three runs.

In that first inning alone, Ross misfired with eight sliders. The eighth was a wild pitch that allowed a run to score.

"That's my go-to pitch. I didn't command it early. I didn't command anything early. But that's [slider] my pitch that gets me back in counts," Ross said. "They executed their game plan well. They executed their game plan better than I executed mine."

The Padres made two errors, one each by shortstop Alexi Amarista and catcher Rene Rivera. The Padres also allowed a double-steal in the first inning that set up two runs. The game wasn't crisp by any means.

"It wasn't a clean game at all," Black said. "It's just one of those games where we didn't execute in a number of areas."

The Padres got two runs off of D-backs pitcher Chase Anderson in the fourth inning when Yasmani Grandal connected for a home run to right field, his 13th of 2014. Amarista added an RBI single and then added another two innings later as the Padres.

Anderson allowed two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in five innings.

Yangervis Solarte made it a 7-4 game when he hit a home run, his fourth, in the seventh inning, but the D-backs added three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning off of reliever Leonel Campos to put the game out of reach.

As for Ross, he's now thrown a career-high 195 2/3 innings and could have as many as three starts left or as few as two if the Padres opt to give Joe Wieland a start before now and the end of the season.

But, to be clear, the Padres don't feel like Ross is starting to tire, nor do they think his stuff is beginning to suffer, even if he has a 4.91 ERA in three starts this month.

"I think it was a small bump in the road," Ross said. "… The key for me now is to get a good night's sleep, to come to the park tomorrow and prepare for the next start."

Rivera didn't seem concerned or alarmed at all.

"He still has room to get better," Rivera said. "He knows what he's doing. I know he's going to be better next time."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Amarista earning praise for work at shortstop

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PHOENIX -- Jake Lamb scorched a ball on the ground in the ninth inning Friday that was hit so hard that it appeared headed toward the gap in left-center field, which surely would not have been a good thing for the Padres, who were nursing a one-run lead with a runner at first base.

But shortstop Alexi Amarista managed to flag the ball down even though the ball was already past him -- and then had the wherewithal to flip the ball to second baseman Jedd Gyorko to get the force out, a key play that helped the Padres preserve a 6-5 victory at Chase Field.

"That play saved the game," Gyorko said.

Amarista has earned his share of rave reviews internally and otherwise filling in at shortstop for Everth Cabrera, who as of Saturday had missed 51 games due to two disabled list stints with strains of his left hamstring.

"He's been outstanding," said Padres third-base coach Glenn Hoffman, who works with the infielders. "He's that 25th man where [manager Bud Black] can use him anywhere, but in the infield, he's held his ground and been the unsung hero in the infield. He's been the constant. I'm so proud of the way that he's worked at it. He's been more aggressive coming to the ball.

"It's great to know you're covered at that position."

Heading into Saturday's game, Amarista had played a career-best 487 defensive innings at shortstop with five errors. Defensive metrics on a short look -- three years is the preferred sample-size -- have been kind, for what it's worth. His DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) is plus-six, which is considered above average. His UZR (ultimate zone rating) is 1.4.

Before this season, the most shortstop he played was last season (83 2/3 innings).

"It's certainly the best I've ever seen him play shortstop," said a National League scout. "His arm looked stronger than I've ever seen it and he's much more under control than I've seen from in the past."

But can Amarista, who is hitting .236 this season with three home runs and 27 RBIs, handle the rigors of the position over a full season?

Most figure he's better suited as a super utilityman, though he's likely added value because of his ability to handle one of the toughest positions on the field in more than just a small sample-size. There's also a sense he's more productive at the plate when he doesn't play every day.

This season alone, Amarista has played in 21 games at second base, 22 at third base, 58 at shortstop, six in left field and 21 in center field.

Gyorko said Amarista looks far more comfortable at shortstop now than he ever did a year ago. Some of that comes with more repetitions at the position, he said. But there's more to it.

"It starts with consistency. He has the drive to perform well. It's been impressive and fun to watch," said Gyorko.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Verses that became National anthem celebrates 200 years, is part of baseball's fabric

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Francis Scott Key never got to see a big league baseball game. He died in 1843, some 26 years before the first professional team was established. But you can imagine his joy if he did get that chance. These days, he'd probably sit in a shiny bleacher seat, waiting for a batting-practice homer with a soft, weathered glove raised high ... in his non-writing hand. Maybe he'd inhale a hot dog while jotting down a few pretty lines for his next song. That would come about an hour before he'd hear the iconic bars of his first one, which, contrary to American lore, does not end with the words, "Play Ball." Odds are he'd be pretty happy at the twilight's last gleaming.

This weekend, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is on, and Key's memory is being rightly feted for his poetic description from the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, at the height of the War of 1812.

Hours after being stuck on a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British pounded Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Key saw the skies clear from the smoke and the indelible image that "our flag was still there."

The verses were called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it was put to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song purportedly written by John Stafford Smith that had been composed more than 30 years earlier and served as the theme of the Anacreontic Society of London, a men's club of amateur musicians.

Soon after Key wrote the words, a local newspaper gave it the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," and in 1931, it became our official anthem. All the while, another grand tradition steeped in collective nostalgia and American togetherness -- the game of baseball -- was steaming along, gaining prominence in our country's conscience.

Not surprisingly, the national anthem and the National Pastime became stitched together forever, like red laces in white horsehide.

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, the playing of the national anthem before big league games did not become an everyday tradition until 1942. Taking that into account (and including a slight margin of error based on the lack of documentation regarding split doubleheaders in the earlier days), the Star-Spangled Banner has been heard right before the first pitch of at least the last 121,000 games. Oh, say can you see, indeed.

So with that in mind, 200 years after the night a 35-year-old Washington, D.C.-based attorney known to friends as Frank found himself under a war-torn sky, with honor in his heart and a pen in his hand, we go around the horn with nine things to know about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its now-eternal link to the national pastime.

1. A first for everything
The first time the song was played at a baseball game was May 15, 1862, at William Cammeyer's Union Grounds park in Brooklyn. It had been converted from an ice skating venue into a field for summer sports, including what, at the time, was known as "base ball." In the midst of the Civil War, a band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The first big league Opening Day to feature the eventual anthem took place in Philadelphia on April 22, 1897. The New York Tribune newspaper included a brief and lyrical account of the game: "Opening Day here was a great success. The weather was delightful and the attendance numbered 17,074. The players paraded across the field, company front, and then raised the new flag, while the band played 'The Star Spangled Banner.' "

In spite of all the pageantry, there had to be some accounting for the four errors that led the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Giants at the Baker Bowl.

"The game was rather dull and long-drawn out," the article read, "and on the part of the New-Yorkers was somewhat unsteadily played."

2. An unforgettable rendition
The first national anthem played at a World Series game occurred on Sept. 5, 1918, during World War I, when Major League players were in the midst of being drafted into service. The regular season was ordered by the government to be completed by Labor Day, hence the Fall Classic that year was played in September.

The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park from the White Sox to take advantage of the larger seating capacity, but things got quiet in Game 1, a 1-0 shutout by Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth. But that game will be forever remembered for what occurred in the seventh inning.

That was when the military band on hand struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the song took on a different meaning. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, for example, was on furlough from the Navy, and he saluted the flag during the playing of the song.

And then the crowd caught on. The New York Times opened its account of the game by writing, "Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch" and then continued with the play-by-play … of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day's enthusiasm."

The Cubs and Red Sox repeated the tradition for the rest of the Series.

3. Making it official
Even though the Secretary of the Navy in 1889 had designated "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official song to be played at the raising of the flag, and even though President Woodrow Wilson, a huge baseball fan himself, treated it and referred to it as our national anthem, it had failed to stick in Congress after numerous attempts in the 1920s.

Baseball's increased use of the song prior to games, a petition with millions of signatures, and a nice little push from noted composer John Philip Sousa helped finally get the job done on March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed into law the establishment of the song as the official national anthem of the United States of America.

4. A lasting tradition
"The Star-Spangled Banner" still wasn't being played before every baseball game in 1941, but on April 26, 1941, the ball got rolling in the Bronx. As The New York Times reported, "With more war new in the making, president Ed Barrow of the Yankees ordered that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' be played before all games at the Stadium.

"Meanwhile, all continued to go well for the Yankees and [Joe] DiMaggio. He singled home a run in the first and scored twice as New York beat Washington 8-3 for its fourth straight victory."

By the following year, with the country deep in World War II, the anthem became the daily staple of baseball that we know today.

And DiMaggio was still hitting.

5. Controversy hits the field
It was October 1968, and the country was fighting in Vietnam and had already lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that year. Protests were boiling over in the streets at home, and the Detroit Tigers were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Jose Feliciano was a 23-year-old blind folk singer from Puerto Rico who had scored a hit on the U.S. charts with a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire," and Tigers radio legend Ernie Harwell invited him to sing the national anthem at Tiger Stadium prior to Game 5.

Feliciano was accompanied in left field by his acoustic guitar and his guide dog, Trudy, and he launched into an emotional, heartfelt, and, well, different version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He strummed the guitar in a slightly syncopated, Latin-influenced rhythm, careened back and forth from the traditional vocal melody to something more adventurous, and offered the finishing flourish of "Yeah, yeah."

It was bold and innovative and fresh, but it was also many years ahead of its time. Feliciano was booed heartily by the crowd and caused a public uproar that took years to live down.

"Back then, when the anthem was done at ballgames, people couldn't wait for it to be over," Feliciano told The Guardian last month. "And I wanted to make them sit up and take notice and respect the song. I was shocked when I was booed. I felt, 'God, what have I done wrong?' All I was trying to do was create a soulful rendition. I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have the country against me, radio stations stop playing me.

"But in part, it was good -- because I ended up meeting my wife. She couldn't understand the injustice and started a fan club, even though we'd never met. We fell in love and the rest is history."

On Oct. 14, 2012, prior to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the same stylized, heartfelt version of the national anthem was performed by Feliciano on his acoustic guitar.

This time the crowd roared.

6. "O"-dience participation
The anthem itself is a tradition, and at Oriole Park in Camden Yards in Baltimore, there's a tradition baked into the tradition. When the song rounds third base and heads for home with, "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the crowd screams the "O" together, celebrating their beloved O's.

This started at the old Memorial Stadium in the club's pennant-winning season of 1979. Out in Section 34 of the upper deck, Orioles superfan Wild Bill Hagy would lead fans in chants of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, with the emphasis on the "O." Mary Powers sat nearby and took the inspiration to another level.

"We would accentuate the 'O' in any word that would have an 'O,' and one night when they were playing the anthem, I thought, 'There's an 'O!' in this song,' and the first time I did it, I remember people turning around and looking like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe she just did that,' " Powers recently told WBAL-TV.

"Well, Wild Bill had a little grin on his face, so the next night, he did it with me, and once he put his blessing on it, everybody started to do it."

Orioles fans still do it -- loudly -- and will likely be doing it in October this year.

7. Setting the (low) Barr
We all know now that Feliciano's rendition was eventually respected, if not appreciated. We all also know now that the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by comedian Roseanne Barr before a Padres-Reds doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, was not.

Barr screeched a fast, off-key rendition of the anthem that drew loud boos midway through, and when she was finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit, as if to mimic a ballplayer. The joke bombed, she was lambasted all over TV and in the newspapers, and she inspired President George H. W. Bush to call the whole act "disgraceful."

Bush's comment was met with bipartisan approval.

8. A hymn of healing
The horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the United States forever, but not only in tragic ways. The courage, brotherhood and human decency shown that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and on a hijacked airplane that would crash in a Pennsylvania field showed our country's strength and will to persevere.

The emotion was palpable 10 days later when the Mets played the Braves at Shea Stadium in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Marc Anthony delivered a somber rendition without musical accompaniment and the game was played quietly until the eighth inning, when Piazza's two-run home run gave the Mets the lead and got the crowd going again.

"I remember standing on the line during the national anthem -- actually when the bagpipes and band came out -- I said to myself, 'Please, God, give me the strength to get through this,' " Piazza told the New York Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

9. 200 and many more
Every year now, we're treated to incredible musical talent on the baseball field. From the seasoned operatic pipes of longtime Yankees national anthem singer Robert Merrill to commercial acts James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., John Legend, Lyle Lovett, the Grateful Dead, Slash from Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson and countless others, it's now a grand American tradition to bring out the best in the business to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the biggest baseball games.

But Sunday, the song itself will shine.

At Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a real-time anniversary program will kick off, with artillery salutes, a reading of the song's four stanzas and a replica 15-star, 15-stripe flag raising at precisely 9 a.m. to commemorate the history that Key had witnessed.

And MLB teams playing at home will show a special video montage of "The Star-Spangled Banner." In conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the program Great Performances, Maryland Public Television has provided the montage originally seen in the PBS production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem to the ballparks and to and all 30 club websites and official MLB social media channels.

Fittingly, the last game on Sunday will be played at Camden Yards, about three miles away from Fort McHenry, and fittingly, the Orioles will play the Yankees.

We all know what song we'll hear right before the first pitch.

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Triple call stands after Crew Chief review at Chase Field

Triple call stands after Crew Chief review at Chase Field play video for Triple call stands after Crew Chief review at Chase Field

PHOENIX -- Hitting home runs aren't exactly a rarity for Padres' catcher Rene Rivera, who has a career-high 10 of them this season.

But hitting triples, which, of course, means a whole lot more running around the bases -- no small feat for a catcher -- certainly rates as a little more unusual.

Rivera earned his second career triple in the sixth inning Saturday after he drove a ball high off the wall in deep center field.

But the umpires initiated a Crew Chief review for a potential home run after Padres manager Bud Black came out of the dugout to ask if Rivera's ball had hit above the yellow line on the center-field wall.

The replay official eventually ruled that the called stood.

Rivera eventually scored when Alexi Amarista singled to right field, cutting the D-backs' lead to 7-3.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Six Padres drive in runs to edge D-backs

Bullpen, defense come through, too, in support of Stults

Six Padres drive in runs to edge D-backs play video for Six Padres drive in runs to edge D-backs

PHOENIX -- Some of the names and roles have changed this season but there's been one constant with the Padres' bullpen in 2014 -- six months of unwavering success.

It happened again Friday, as the relief trio of Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer and Kevin Quackenbush got the final nine outs in the Padres' 6-5 victory over the D-backs before a crowd of 31,238 at Chase Field.

The Padres, for all their struggles this season, are 51-1 when leading after six innings, 52-2 after seven innings and 54-1 after eight innings.

"A great standard has been set in our bullpen from a lot of great relievers," said San Diego manager Bud Black. "These guys weren't around for [Trevor] Hoffman, [Mike] Adams and [Heath] Bell, but they were for [Joaquin] Benoit and [Huston] Street and a few were for [Luke] Gregerson.

"There's a great deal of mentorship that's gone on that's been passed down to these guys."

The Padres (68-78) needed each and every strike from those relievers once Eric Stults (7-16) left after he allowed five runs, two earned, over six innings.

The Padres' defense chipped in Friday with a handful of gems, including double plays in the first, fourth and eighth innings. The one in the eighth was of the 4-6-3 variety, a short-hop that Jedd Gyorko flipped to Alexi Amarista who made a nice play at the bag to get a throw off.

"Jedd has good hands and good feet. That was a tough play and Alexi made an acrobatic turn, a great acrobatic turn," Black said. "Overall, I thought the infield play was very good."

Third baseman Yangervis Solarte made a nice backhand play and came in on a ball to get an out, but his miscue in the fifth inning with two outs prolonged the inning, which led directly to A.J. Pollock coming to the plate with two on. His home run cut the Padres' lead to 6-5.

But the D-backs (59-88) wouldn't score again, even though they put two on in the ninth inning. A nice play by Amarista to smother a ball hit by Jake Lamb that he turned into a force out certainly helped.

Two batters later, Quackenbush -- filling in for an injured Benoit, who took over after Street was traded in July -- got pinch-hitter Aaron Hill to fly out to end the game.

Quackenbush, a rookie, has had to cut his teeth in a lot of high-leverage situations. Some because the Padres have wanted to see if he can handle it and some because the situation has called for it. He said time spent around veterans like Benoit and Street has prepared him well.

"Guys like Benoit and Street, they've been so successful for so many years, you can learn so much from them by picking their brains or even just watching them," Quackenbush said. "I think one of the things I have learned is you can't let certain situations affect you too much."

If anyone knows that, it's Stults, who entered this start with the lowest run support average (2.84) in all of baseball. And so, of course, on Friday, the Padres scored six runs for him in five innings. The Pollock home run, all unearned runs, cut into his lead, but for the most part, he did his job.

The defense helped. So did the bullpen.

"They're huge," Stults said of the defensive plays. "It's nice to see guys make the not-so-routine plays. It's hard to get 27 outs."

The Padres got two hits from Solarte, Gyorko, Yasmani Grandal, Cameron Maybin and Amarista. Rene Rivera had a home run, his 10th of the season. That came in the fifth inning off Vidal Nuno (0-6 with the D-backs).

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Post added to Padres staff as scouting executive

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PHOENIX -- David Post's first non-playing job was in 2004 when he was hired by the Marlins as an amateur scout to cover the Pacific Northwest.

On Friday, the Padres hired Post as their new special assistant to the general manager/scouting, giving general manager A.J. Preller his second notable hire since taking the job last month.

In reality, Post had already done his share of unofficial scouting over parts of 12 professional seasons playing in the Minor Leagues.

"When I was still playing, I started thinking about scouting. It always interested me," Post said Friday at Chase Field. "As a player, you're always scouting. You sit here watching the games … seeing what plays, what doesn't play. You're building your library all the time."

Post comes from the Astros where he was the team's national crosschecker for the last seven seasons. A national crosschecker overseas players from all scouting regions, going over the recommendations from area scouts.  

According to Preller, the 41-year-old Post will be involved in all areas of scouting with the Padres, from amateur to professional to international.

And unlike Preller's first hire -- vice president of scouting operations Don Welke, who had worked with Preller for the Dodgers and Rangers -- he had no prior history with Post.

"When you see someone you feel is good at their job and adds value, and asking around people will tell you that and you see the way they work, he was one of those guys you'd like to have with you if you got that chance," Preller said.

For Post, the feeling was mutual.

"I've seen A.J. over the years on the scouting trail and have respected his work ethic and to see what he did with the Rangers and knew he was a big part of that … I thought that it would be cool to work with someone like that," Post said. "It's kind of the same mindset."

Post, who makes his home outside Atlanta, is excited for this challenge, one that's still rooted in his primary interest -- finding talent.

"Anything scouting, I want to be a part of," he said. "I'm trying to find players who are impactful, who are going to produce at the big league level. That's what I'm all about."

Post was a 10th round pick of the Dodgers in 1992. He played second base, first base and the outfield in the Minor Leagues from 1992-2003, reaching Triple-A. He was a career .272/.367/.383 hitter.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Rivera thankful for chance that led to career revival

After being out of baseball in 2010, catcher began reboot in Puerto Rico, independent league

Rivera thankful for chance that led to career revival play video for Rivera thankful for chance that led to career revival

SAN DIEGO -- In the spring of 2010, not quite eight years into his professional career, Rene Rivera sat at his home in Puerto Rico watching Spring Training games on television, waiting for his telephone to ring.

"My agent, now my ex-agent, said there was no interest," Rivera said. "I was thinking that it was over."

At that point in life, Rivera was 25 and, despite a light bat, had built a reputation as a good catch-and-throw guy, good enough to get 53 games with the Mariners from 2004-06. He was the team's catcher of the future at one point, so he was told.

Now, it appeared that Rivera had no future.

Rivera's last hope to stay connected to the game he loved was to play for a semi-professional team in Toa Baja, located 20 minutes from his hometown of Bayamon. Teams in the league were allowed to have one player with professional experience.

For Toa Baja, Rivera was it.

"I got there and found out that these guys all have regular jobs. They worked 8 [a.m.] to 5 [p.m.] each day and then went and played a game … doing it because they love playing," Rivera said. "I think playing there made me fall in love with baseball all over again. So why not give it another chance?"

Former big leaguer Von Hayes, manager of the independent league Camden Riversharks, placed a call to Rivera, remembering him from the Mariners, and offered him a job. Rivera, making $1,500 a month, hit seven home runs in three weeks with Camden before being signed to a Minor League deal by the Yankees.

That started Rivera on his road back to the big leagues.

"I give him [Hayes] a lot of credit," Rivera said. "He thought I had a lot left."

So do the Padres, who are the beneficiaries of Rivera's career revival at age 31, as he's proven to be one of the few non-pitching highlights this season -- both offensively and especially on defense, where he's thrown out a Major League-best 27 would-be basestealers.

Rivera, who signed a Minor League contract with San Diego in December 2012, is now the team's top catcher, having first wrestled playing time away from Nick Hundley and now Yasmani Grandal.

"All year long, he's been a bright spot," said Padres manager Bud Black. "And he has worked his way into regular playing time. He deserves to play."

Getting a spot in a big league lineup more often than not has taken some work, and there have been a lot of twists and turns in a career that began when Rivera signed a professional contract with the Mariners at the age of 16 in 2001.

Rivera made his big league debut in September 2004 at the age of 21. The next spring, he got the call from Double-A in May, notching three hits in his first start. Rivera figured this was the start of a long and prosperous Major League career.

"Oh, I was so young," he said, smiling. "I was immature. I was the best catcher in the organization and I was coming to the big leagues thinking I was going to stay there forever. Looking back, there are things that I could have done different. I would have tried to understand things better, quicker. I don't regret anything. I've learned a lot in the 10 years since, a lot of stuff that has helped me."

After his time in the Mariners' organization, Rivera bounced around baseball -- there's always a place, it seems, for a good catch-and-throw guy.

Rivera was in the Minor Leagues with the Dodgers and the Mets. After his time in Camden, he resurfaced with the Yankees. Rivera got back to the big leagues with the Twins in 2011 before finally signing with the Padres.

Rivera has a pretty good idea why he's flourished the second time around in the big leagues, and with San Diego.

"I could always catch and throw, but now I understand the pitchers better and I communicate with them better," Rivera said. "I remember last year in Triple-A, talking to manager Pat Murphy, he went straight to the point with me, saying I've got to do a better job of that. ... 'Spend time with them, it's about them, not you.'

"I think that was a big step forward for me."

Today, Rivera has the ear of many a pitcher on the Padres' staff, most of whom rave about his pitch-calling as well as his ability to steal strikes -- he ranks seventh in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus, in extra strikes -- and his knowledge of opposing hitters. The offense -- he's reached career bests in several categories -- is a nice bonus. Defense, though, is Rivera's calling card.

"[Rivera has] helped me out tremendously the last two years," said Tyson Ross. "We sit next to each other on the bench and talk all the time. He's been huge for my career."

As for Rivera's career, it's certainly in much better shape now than it's ever been. The same, he insists, goes for his life in general. Rivera has been married since March 2012 to Mariel Perez, and the couple has twin girls, Julianna Renee and Ivanna Mariel, who will turn 1 on Sept. 26.

"I think I started realizing when I got married and she got pregnant that it's not about me no more. It's all about them. I think that's the moment my career turned around," Rivera said. "When you dedicate what you do for the other people in your life, the others you love, then you're going to have success."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kennedy still searching for answer vs. Dodgers

Padres righty falls to 0-3 in six starts against LA this season

Kennedy still searching for answer vs. Dodgers play video for Kennedy still searching for answer vs. Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- There's been no dodging the Dodgers. Not for Ian Kennedy. He's been seeing blue all season long. He likes that -- the recurring battles and adjustments. He likes the game within the game, the chess match. On Wednesday night, though, it was checkmate, Dodgers.

Kennedy took the mound against Los Angeles for the sixth time this year, and for the sixth time he came away winless. Kennedy allowed just three earned runs in his six-plus innings, but he was opposed by a strong Dan Haren, who turned in a seven-inning gem to hand the Padres a 4-0 loss at Dodger Stadium.

It wasn't Kennedy's sharpest outing, by any means -- he allowed 10 hits -- but the right-hander was able to pitch his way off a cliff on more than one occasion.

"I thought he threw the ball fine, good velocity, good tight slider, good change," manager Bud Black said. "I thought overall he pitched well enough to win on given nights. Kept us in the game, threw pitches in the seventh inning in a pitchers' duel. He got outpitched by their guy, and we didn't hit their guy."

Haren flummoxed Padres hitters with an assortment offspeed pitches and a biting splitfinger, allowing just four hits to go along with five strikeouts.

The Padres had their best chance to make a dent in the fourth inning. Seth Smith reached on an errant throw by Justin Turner at second base, then cleanup hitter Jedd Gyorko doubled to put two runners in scoring position. But Yasmani Grandal popped out, Rene Rivera struck out, and Will Venable grounded out to strand both runners.

Haren went on to face the minimum in his next three innings, before giving way to the Dodgers bullpen to seal the win.

"He was using all of his pitches -- his split, his cutter, his fastball, his curveball when he needed to," said Padres catcher Rene Rivera. "He always kept the ball down and he kept us off balance."

Against Kennedy, the Dodgers made their first move in an arduous 30-pitch second inning.

Right fielder Matt Kemp led off with a single to right field, and two batters later, Carl Crawford doubled to the left-center-field wall, where Venable was unable to make an athletic catch. Kennedy then allowed a single to Juan Uribe and walked A.J. Ellis to load the bases, but he was able to wiggle out of danger with back-to-back strikeouts against Haren and Yasiel Puig.

From there, Kennedy said he was able to rein in his pitch count thanks to some aggressive swinging and a pair of double plays. He finally faltered, however, when Hanley Ramirez singled with two outs to drive in Turner from third base in the sixth. An inning later, Kennedy allowed a third hit and second double to Crawford, then an RBI single to Uribe for the Dodgers' third run. Right-hander Nick Vincent entered after Uribe's single and worked out of the inning without further damage.

"I think Ian did a great job today," Rivera said. "Three runs is nothing for a starter. And we had a couple of times when he had men on second and third and no outs or one out, and we didn't score any runs. It's bad when you don't have any run support."

Haren, on the other hand, had plenty of offensive support from Crawford, who went 4-for-4 on the night, drove in two and tied a career high and Dodgers record with three doubles. His third knocked in the Dodgers' fourth run against reliever Tim Stauffer in the eighth inning.

Kennedy, who dropped to 10-13 on the season and 0-3 against the Dodgers this year, said Crawford's hot hitting was the key difference in his sixth and final 2014 start against Los Angeles -- it was the most crucial piece on the chess board.

"Crawford had a really good night. I think he's been swinging the bat really good. I saw how his series numbers were," Kennedy said, referring to the left fielder's 9-for-13 series and .440 September batting average. "Kemp's being swinging the bat really good, and when those guys are doing it, it allows the other guys in the lineup to do well. It makes the lineup a lot deeper. If you have some guys struggling, it allows you to attack a bit more.

"But yeah, they're hitting the ball pretty good. There's a reason why they're in first place."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Padres try rookie infielder Spangenberg in left field

Padres try rookie infielder Spangenberg in left field play video for Padres try rookie infielder Spangenberg in left field

LOS ANGELES -- Padres manager Bud Black slotted rookie infielder Cory Spangenberg in left field for Wednesday night's finale with the Dodgers as a way to get both his and third baseman Yangervis Solarte's bat in the lineup.

Black was discussing Spangenberg's first Major League start as a left fielder before the game when the 23-year-old walked by the Dodger Stadium dugout.

Black asked Spangenberg, a natural second baseman, if he had ever played left field in the Minor Leagues.

"One inning," Spangenberg said.

Black turned to the reporters surrounding him.

"And you guys said he didn't have any experience," he joked.

Spangenberg -- the Padres' first-round pick 2011 -- played just 16 games in the outfield in his Minor League career -- 15 coming in center and the other coming in left.

He did appear in left field after pinch-hitting during the Padres' 12-inning loss to Colorado on Saturday.

"I think, obviously, we're challenging him a little bit," Black said. "Talking with the coaches .. our desire to put him and Solarte in there at the same time and keep [Alexi Amarista] at short."

Spangenberg has swung a hot bat since his call up to the Major Leagues from Double-A San Antonio on Sept. 1.

His RBI single in Tuesday's 6-3 Padres win gave him six RBIs through his first seven Major League games -- tying a franchise record shared by Yasmani Grandal (2012), Sandy Alomar (1988-89) and Miguel Ojeda (2003).

He's 8-for-22 in those seven games -- including two pinch-hit home runs -- although he's not known for his power, hitting just 12 homers in 1,484 Minor League at-bats.

On Wednesday, Spangenberg got his second consecutive start in the leadoff spot after leading off and playing third Tuesday.

"That's where I've been hitting all year, so I'm comfortable there," he said. "Any way I can get in the lineup, anywhere I can hit is fine with me. It's great just to be up here and experience what it's like to be in the big leagues -- the schedule, the travel, just the type players you're playing against."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Legal issues cloud status of Padres' Cabrera

Legal issues cloud status of Padres' Cabrera

LOS ANGELES -- Manager Bud Black said Monday he thought shortstop Everth Cabrera could return to the team as soon as this weekend against Arizona. But on Wednesday, Black said that might not be the case after all.

Cabrera has missed 27 games with his second left hamstring strain of the season. He was also arrested on Sept. 3 on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, according to the California Highway Patrol.

"We were hopeful. I was hopeful, personally, just because he's a good player," Black said. "But let's just see how this whole process plays out -- even how his hamstring is. I still think there's some information gathering going on as we speak with MLB and CHP and doctors that I'm not privy to. And I think the organization is going to wait for this to all get settled and cleared."

Though Cabrera's status is up in the air, the Padres could soon be getting outfielder Abraham Almonte's bat back in the lineup.

Almonte hasn't played since Saturday after spraining his ankle going after a fly ball against the Rockies.

"He's going to take batting practice for the first time today in a while," Black said before Wednesday's game with the Dodgers. "He's going to run in the outfield, so I think he's getting closer and there's an outside chance tonight -- pinch-hit, and I don't think pinch-run."

Black said right-hander Joaquin Benoit (shoulder) played catch Wednesday and should throw off of a mound by the weekend, putting him in line to return next week. Black said right-hander Blaine Boyer, also dealing with sore shoulder, is four or five days behind Benoit.

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Cashner lifts Padres with gem against Dodgers

Righty goes seven innings, adds two RBIs for first win since April

Cashner lifts Padres with gem against Dodgers play video for Cashner lifts Padres with gem against Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- The Padres had waited six days. Andrew Cashner had waited five months. On Tuesday night, neither could wait any longer.

With seven strong innings on the mound and a two-run double at the plate, Cashner helped end the Padres' six-game skid and earned his first win since April 16 with a 6-3 victory over the Dodgers.

"We were joking earlier that he needed a win, so he was going to do anything to get a win today, and he did it," catcher Rene Rivera said. "He got a double, two RBIs to help his cause, and he was great."

Cashner entered the game 2-7 despite a 2.39 ERA in 15 starts. After coming off his second stint on the disabled list on Aug. 23, Cashner allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last three starts, yet was 0-1 to show for it. A victim of just 2.1 runs of support per game, Cashner provided his own support at Dodger Stadium.

With two outs and two runners on base in the second inning, Cashner doubled to the left-field wall off Dodgers right-hander Roberto Hernandez, driving in the first two runs of the game and advancing to third on an error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez. The error was Ramirez's second two-out error in the inning, coming on a relay throw. Once Ramirez dropped the ball, Cashner took an aggressive turn toward third, sliding to beat the tag.

"It's fun whenever you get to hit and run the bases. I always like hitting and wish I could play a position," Cashner said. "Whether it's me or somebody else, I just think it's just big getting a lead early. Then you have a lot more room for error. You can work ahead and pitch guys a little bit different."

One batter after Cashner's double, rookie Cory Spangenberg drove in his pitcher with a single to complete the three-run frame, and Jedd Gyorko drilled a two-run home run in third to lend Cashner a 5-0 cushion.

The third was Hernandez's last inning. The Padres tagged him for five runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk.

"Right from the get-go I thought we had good at-bats against Hernandez," manager Bud Black said. "I think the key was how Cash was going, and we had some big swings early that kept the game on our side."

Using a power sinker that touched as high as 98 mph, Cashner held the Padres' lead with yet another strong night on the mound. Rivera said he thought Cashner's slider was the best he's seen it, and the right-hander was able to use his changeup to keep hitters off balance.

Cashner did, however, run into some trouble in his final two innings.

Dodgers leadoff hitter Dee Gordon began the sixth with a bunt single and came around to score on a two-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez. Rivera said he called for a fastball up and in, but the ball wound up low and near the middle of the plate. The next batter, Matt Kemp, narrowly missed a home run of his own with a double off the left-center-field wall. But Cashner managed to dance out of trouble. Carl Crawford hit a ground-ball single that struck Kemp as he advanced to third for the second out of the inning, and Juan Uribe grounded out to end the threat.

In the seventh, Cashner allowed singles to Yasiel Puig and A.J. Ellis to begin the frame, but he retired pinch-hitter Joc Pederson, Gordon and Ramirez to keep the Dodgers at bay.

"You look at a number of their hits -- a little bit soft," Black said. "Now, Adrian Gonzalez's hit was not soft. That was well-struck. But I thought Cash threw the ball well. Really clutched up, made some pitches at big times when the Dodgers were threatening."

Cashner finished having allowed two runs on nine hits and one walk, striking out two. But the most important stat on his line Tuesday night was undoubtedly the W.

"Yeah, it's been a monkey on my back," Cashner said. "I don't pay a lot of attention to it, but it's finally nice to get a win and help the team out.

"Anytime I take the mound, anytime we have a losing streak going, it's one of those things where I want to be the guy to stop it."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kelly resumes rehab from '13 Tommy John surgery

Kelly resumes rehab from '13 Tommy John surgery play video for Kelly resumes rehab from '13 Tommy John surgery

LOS ANGELES -- Shut down in May, Padres right-hander Casey Kelly is throwing again, manager Bud Black said Tuesday.

Kelly was rehabbing from April 2013 Tommy John surgery when he was shut down after experiencing soreness following a May 19 rehab start for Double-A San Antonio.

Black said Kelly is back to long tossing, but with the Padres' Minor League seasons over, he likely won't pitch again until the spring.

"What has proved out is that MRIs, scans have showed he's structurally intact, and with that he's starting to throw again, and he's feeling better, and he's doing fine," Black said. "It's just been a slower recovery for him than most."

Kelly hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2012, when he went 2-3 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts for the Padres. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Red Sox in 2010 as part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade.

He made four rehab starts this season, posting a 2.21 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.

"What happened to him, he just ran out of season," Black said. "I think where he is now as far as stamina and how he feels, it doesn't make sense to do all the instruction league or go throw and do winter ball. Let's keep him rehabbing, let's get him as strong as possible, and let's ramp him up again for Spring Training."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.