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With new GM, Padres may be in for many changes in '15

With new GM, Padres may be in for many changes in '15

SAN DIEGO -- The offseason always offers up the potential for some intrigue, and with the recent hire of new general manager A.J. Preller, Padres manager Bud Black can easily envision a scenario where this winter is anything but mundane.

And in terms of shaping the roster for 2015, Black has a suspicion that the team that ended the season against the Giants on Sunday could look dramatically different come Opening Day.

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"I think there's quite possibly a lot of positions on our club where there could be new faces," Black said.

The Padres will certainly look to improve their offense after a third-place finish in the National League West, one that certainly could have been far worse if it wasn't for a better second half and a pitching staff that ranked among the best in baseball.

"With the way we played the last two months, we played with a lot of energy, we played good baseball and we were scoring runs and starting to produce like we know we can," said second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

"You don't know how the roster is going to shake out during the offseason, but I think there is a lot of excitement and energy here."

To improve the position player group on the roster, the Padres might have to part with pitching. Could that potentially mean moving Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross for offensive help? The Padres haven't shown a willingness to spend big in free agency in recent years and there's not much immediate help coming from their Minor League system.

"Given a few smart acquisitions to the offense and some depth for the pitching staff, I don't think this is a bad club," said a National League scout.

Stay tuned, it could be an interesting winter.

Arbitration-eligible: SP Ian Kennedy, SP Eric Stults, SS Everth Cabrera, SP Andrew Cashner, SP Tyson Ross, 1B Yonder Alonso, RP Dale Thayer, INF Alexi Amarista, C Rene Rivera, SP Joe Wieland, and RP Blaine Boyer.

Free agents: RP Tim Stauffer, SP Josh Johnson (the team owns a $4 million option on Johnson since he made fewer than seven starts in 2014).

Rotation:The Padres could enter the season with Cashner, Ross and Kennedy, all capable of posting double-digits in wins, throwing 200 innings and compiling 200 strikeouts. If the team deals one of them for a bat, they could still retain veteran lefty Eric Stults, who pitched considerably better in the second half to go with promising rookies from 2014 -- Jesse Hahn and Odrisamer Despaigne, who likely pegs as a No. 5. Don't forget about Matt Wisler, the 22-year-old who took some lumps in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but who has good stuff and good makeup. Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland could be options. Johnson, even if the team opts to decline his $4 million option, could possibly return.

Bullpen: The Padres will retain closer Joaquin Benoit, who will make $8 million in 2015 in the second year of a two-year deal. Rookie Kevin Quackenbush showed promise closing games when Benoit rested a tired right arm in September, but he might not be ready to handle the job on an everyday basis. Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Alex Torres and Blaine Boyer all figure to return, and the team is very high on R.J. Alvarez, who came to the team in the Huston Street deal. Look for the bullpen to again be an area of strength.

Catcher: Rene Rivera made the team as a third catcher out of Spring Training and then promptly took the starting job and ran with it. He led all of baseball in caught stealing and stole enough strikes and made an impression on the pitching staff at the age of 31 to qualify this as a career revival. The bat played well, too. He reached several offensive bests. The Padres used Yasmani Grandal at first base a lot in the second half, but haven't given up on him as a catcher by any means. Top prospect Austin Hedges is a plus-defender, but he's just 22 and had a down year offensively in Double-A. Rivera and Grandal should handle the catching duties moving forward.

First base: This is where things get interesting. Alonso, he of the 39 doubles two years ago, needs to reestablish himself after injuries derailed him the last two years. Grandal played some first base and fared well, and Tommy Medica also saw time there, but didn't hit much. If the Padres are looking for an offensive upgrade this winter, this could very well be the spot where they do it. However, given how well Grandal can turn on a ball from the right side, he could be a fit there, spelling Rivera behind the plate as well.

Second base: Gyorko is certainly hoping his third season in the big leagues resembles his first one of 2013 when he hit 23 home runs. He got off to a slow start and things snowballed on him, though he began to hit in September after a few mechanical fixes, including a better swing path that included a shorter path to the ball. There are some who think he could end up at third base, but there are no current plans to make that move. The team can use Amarista and Yangervis Solarte at second base, though Solarte's lack of footwork pegs him better at third base. Rookie Cory Spangenberg showed potential and an exciting skill set in September, but he likely needs a little more Minor League time.

Shortstop: Another position of intrigue for the Padres moving forward, as no one is quite sure what to make of Cabrera's future with the club. An All-Star in 2013, he was suspended for the final 50 games of that season, had two disabled list stints this season because of his left hamstring and then ran afoul of the law after being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. Does the organization try to move him in a trade? One thing is for certain -- a .272 on-base percentage won't fly. Amarista has shown he can handle the position defensively, though probably not on a full-time basis This is a premium position and these spots are hard to fill.

Third base: For so long, this conversation solely revolved around Chase Headley, who was dealt to the Yankees in July. Solarte can play several positions, but third base is where he fits the best. But will he hit enough to hold down the position full-time? If you're getting your offense elsewhere, maybe. But, again, this could be a spot where the team looks to upgrade, especially through a trade. Could the Padres, for example, land someone like Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates, who Pittsburgh could look to move in the winter? His power would play at Petco Park. Sure there are defensive deficiencies, but he would be an upgrade over anything you have internally.

Outfield: The Padres will enter 2015 with four outfielders under contract -- Carlos Quentin, Seth Smith, Will Venable and Cameron Maybin. But with those four, there are questions. Can Quentin, who has averaged 72 games in each of the last three seasons, remain healthy? Can Maybin? Smith can crush righties, but who will platoon with him? What happens with Venable, who slumped in 2014 after a big 2013 season? Rookie Rymer Liriano showed flashes of an athletic, toosly skill set late in the year, but he doesn't appear ready to win an everyday job.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Pitching thrives, but Padres' bats falter in inconsistent '14

Pitching thrives, but Padres' bats falter in inconsistent '14

SAN DIEGO -- There was a palpable tone of lament in Jedd Gyorko's voice recently when he talked about the offensive struggles that essentially waylaid the Padres' season as far back as April.

And, no matter how good the team's pitching was, the dearth of runs made it extremely difficult to win, according to the Padres' second baseman.

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"Anytime you have the pitching we did, there is no reason why we shouldn't have been better than we were," Gyorko said. "All we needed, on most days, was three or four runs a game. That's all. But when you dig yourself a hole like we did, it's tough to climb out."

The Padres' struggles cost general manager Josh Byrnes his job in June, as he was dismissed after two and a half years.

The team hired a first-year general manager in A.J. Preller from the Rangers, giving him a five-year deal, convinced his eye for talent evaluation will help get the franchise -- one that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2006 -- headed in the right direction.

They'll certainly need a whole lot more offense to get there.

The Padres, who were shut out 19 times in 2014, were hurt early by injuries to key players in addition to underperformance, especially offensively. There had been years in manager Bud Black's previous seven seasons where three or four hitters were cold at once, but not six or seven.

Yonder Alonso, Will Venable, Carlos Quentin, Chase Headley (traded in July to the Yankees), Cameron Maybin, Cabrera, Gyorko and Yasmani Grandal -- players the team was depending on -- all finished below where they had been before in batting average and, for many of them, overall offensive production.

"The position player grouping is platoon oriented, and that can work, but it required a few big guys in the middle to provide an offensive foundation for which the platoons can be worked around," said an NL Central scout. "Even if some of the players they have overachieve, there still isn't that force which scares other clubs anywhere in the lineup. I'm not sure I see that player on the roster right now."

Strong pitching kept the Padres afloat, as Tyson Ross took a very big step forward in 2014, Ian Kennedy logged 200 innings and finished with over 200 strikeouts. Andrew Cashner was very good. The bullpen was strong, even after All-Star Huston Street was traded to the Angels in July.

The team played better from July on, oddly enough after Headley and Street were moved in deals before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

'I think [manager Bud Black] deserves a ton of credit for what he's done," the NL Central scout said. "… They have played extremely hard for him and the fundamentals look to have improved. He and his staff deserve a ton of credit for what they have done."

Record: 77-85, third place, National League West.

Defining moment: By the end of May, the Padres were in fourth place and 10 games back in the NL West and had already had their share of offensive trouble. But nothing like what awaited them in June, as the team hit just .171 -- the lowest single-month mark for a team in the modern era (or since at least 1914).

There was a Tim Lincecum no-hitter in there during the team's June swoon as part of four shutouts. All told, the team scored two or fewer runs in 18 of their 27 games. They finished the month 11 games out of first place in the division, meaning if they hit even a little, they could have made up some ground.

What went right: The way rookie pitchers Jesse Hahn and Odrisamer Despaigne, both of whom began the season in the Minor Leagues, more than held their own after earning promotions. Both figure in the team's rotation plans in 2015 in some capacity.

Ross, whom the Padres got from the A's in the winter of 2012 for two Minor Leaguers, took a big step forward in his development, becoming one of the top starters in the league, approaching 200 innings and 200 strikeouts while landing on the NL All-Star team.

Rene Rivera, who made the team as a third catcher, outplayed Nick Hundley and later Grandal, winning the job and never giving it up. At 31, Rivera set several career-best marks in offensive statistics and led all of baseball in caught stealing while also stealing strikes -- pitching framing, anyone -- for his pitchers.

Outfielder Seth Smith, acquired in the winter to combat the team's woes against right-handed pitching, was good against lefties, especially in the first half.

Super utilityman Alexi Amarista filled in more than admirably at shortstop for oft-injured Cabrera and his defensive metrics were better than average.

Also, the pitching -- starters and relievers -- was strong and consistent all season, despite a change at the back end of the bullpen when Street was dealt.

What went wrong: A lot, mostly on offense and then (again) in terms of keeping players healthy.

First, let's tackle the health issue. Quentin played in 50 games, Cashner missed 71 games with two disabled list stints. Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013, slumped badly and found the DL twice. Alonso, Headley, Gyorko and Maybin missed time with injuries.

Pitcher Josh Johnson, a free-agent signing, never threw a single inning and needed Tommy John surgery. Cory Luebke needed a second Tommy John surgery.

Biggest surprise: How about the emergence of Hahn, who was acquired in the winter from the Rays, as well as the emergence of Despaigne? Hahn was good from the moment he arrived from Double-A, tossing six scoreless in his second start against the Mets in New York. Despaigne tossed seven shutout in his first start in San Francisco and was very good pitching at spacious Petco Park and was a good value on a Minor League deal for $1 million.

Hitter of the Year: Smith. He filled a specific need (crush righties) and he did that well during the first half of the season and all 12 of his home runs came against right-handed pitching. Smith hit .354 in May and .358 in July and earned a two-year contract extension. Rivera wasn't far behind, though, as he reached career bests in most offensive categories.

Pitcher of the Year: Cashner had two shutouts and Joaquin Benoit had a sub-2.00 ERA, but if you are looking for the best pitcher in 2014, then look no further than Ross. An All-Star for the first time, he won 13 games and had a club-record streak of 14 consecutive quality starts. He's becoming a complete pitcher, as evidenced by the three-hit shutout he threw against the Reds on July 2.

Rookie of the Year: Has to be Hahn, who didn't pitch much like a rookie, showing he could fare well away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park just as well as pitching at it. He allowed only four home runs and went eight starts without yielding a long ball, unheard of for a young kid trying to find his way and cut his teeth at the big league level.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Preller breaks down early plans for offseason

Preller breaks down early plans for offseason

SAN DIEGO -- A day after the Padres put the finishing touches on a 77-85 season, their eighth consecutive season without a postseason berth, new general manager A.J. Preller faced reporters to talk about what has transpired during his seven-plus weeks on the job.

And, more importantly, what lies ahead for the franchise.

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When he was asked on Monday about specific moves that could be in the works, Preller instead spoke of the general process of how the offseason needs will be met before Opening Day of 2015 arrives.

"It's how to improve the big picture in general," Preller said, sitting on the top bench of the dugout at Petco Park.

Preller inherited a team with roughly $41 million in payroll. There are several players on the roster who are due for big raises through arbitration, like pitchers Andrew Cashner ($2.4 million in 2014), Ian Kennedy ($6.1 million) and Tyson Ross ($1.98 million).

San Diego executive chairman Ron Fowler said Monday he doesn't "have a position on payroll at this time" and that he'll meet with Preller in the next few days to get his thoughts.

Preller, who wasted little time diving headfirst into meetings with the coaching staff Monday, addressed a number of topics:

• As he told MLB.com on Sept. 20, Preller reiterated that manager Bud Black, who just completed his eighth season, will return in 2015. Black was already under contract for next season.

"What I saw from afar, what I heard, he's intelligent," Preller said of Black. "The club played hard for him throughout and I think that he did a good job with the coaching staff … delegating in certain areas and taking responsibility. I feel good about him here. Really, from Day 1 it's been a positive relationship."

A decision on Black's coaching staff could come by the end of the week.

• Preller was also asked about shortstop Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 whose star has faded in a big way. Cabrera was limited to 90 games because of two DL stints for left hamstring injuries. He was also arrested earlier this month for driving under the influence of marijuana and his on-base percentage dropped from .355 a year ago to an anemic .272.

Does Cabrera, who is under team control, have a place on the 2015 roster?

"I think in Everth's case, we'll get started with our staff and our scouts, look at who fits and other ways to make improvements in all spots," Preller said. "In his case specifically, you need to see where he's at physically, the off-field deal, and make a decision going forward about what. In the next month or two months, we'll see where he's at."

• The Padres hold a $4 million option for 2015 on pitcher Josh Johnson (Tommy John surgery), as his contract stipulated that he could return on the option if he made seven or fewer starts. He's indicated that he would like to, even if the team declined the option.

Preller said the feeling is mutual.

"With Josh, he's a guy that everyone has a positive feel for. We'll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him," Preller said.

• Preller already has a good idea what other teams will be asking about this winter -- pitching. The Padres, while not exactly having a surplus, do have some interesting pieces they could move in a deal to get offense. Could they, say, deal Cashner, who they approach last winter about an extension, but were rebuffed by his agent?

"I definitely get the sense already that we have pitchers that are attractive to clubs. It's going to be an area where teams hit us this offseason. It's an area where we have guys who are attractive to other clubs," Preller said.

Would Preller be amenable to moving a frontline starter?

"I think you look at anything to try and improve. We've had good starters, frontline starters, depth. We don't take that lightly. You've got to listen to any situation."

If the team does move, say Cashner, they would retain Ross and Kennedy (both under control) and add them to Jesse Hahn, Odrisamer Despaigne and Eric Stults with Matt Wisler seemingly ready to move up and join the rotation.

• Preller said the Padres will continue to monitor and be active in terms of pursuing players on the international market. But Preller refused to comment specifically on players, such as 24-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.

"It will be a case-by-case basis," Preller said of pursuing players internationally.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Voting underway to decide Hank Aaron Awards

Help decide this season's top offensive performer in each league

Voting underway to decide Hank Aaron Awards

Voting is underway through Sunday exclusively at MLB.com to help decide the 16th annual winners of the Hank Aaron Award, given by "The Hammer" himself during the upcoming 110th World Series to the outstanding offensive performer in each league.

American League nominees include Nelson Cruz of Baltimore, David Ortiz of Boston, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Michael Brantley of Cleveland, Victor Martinez of Detroit, Jose Altuve of Houston, Alex Gordon of Kansas City, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Trevor Plouffe of Minnesota, Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees, Josh Donaldson of Oakland, Robinson Cano of Seattle, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, Adrian Beltre of Texas and Jose Bautista of Toronto.

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National League candidates include Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, Justin Upton of Atlanta, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Devin Mesoraco of Cincinnati, Justin Morneau of Colorado, Adrian Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Giancarlo Stanton of Miami, Jonathan Lucroy of Milwaukee, Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets, Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh, Matt Carpenter of St. Louis, Seth Smith of San Diego, Hunter Pence of San Francisco and Anthony Rendon of Washington.

Goldschmidt is going after his second straight Hank Aaron Award, having been the NL choice last year for the first time. Miguel Cabrera was the AL recipient each of the past two years, but V-Mart's nomination by Detroit means an end to that streak.

"As one of the game's most talented and respected players ever, it is appropriate that Major League Baseball recognizes the top offensive performers in each league with an award named in honor of Hank Aaron," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Each of the nominees should be applauded for their outstanding seasons, which will make selecting just one winner in each league a difficult task for Hank, our Hall of Fame panel and our participating fans."

"I am honored to have my name on the award given by Major League Baseball to the top offensive performers in the game," Aaron said. "Each of the nominees is talented and deserving, which makes me grateful to have the assistance of my fellow Hall of Famers and the fans to help select the winners."

For the fifth consecutive year, a special panel of Hall of Fame players led by Aaron will join fans in voting for the award, which is officially sanctioned by MLB and has recognized the top offensive threat in each league since it was established in 1999.

The panel includes some of the greatest offensive players of all-time -- Roberto Alomar, Johnny Bench, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas and Robin Yount. These Hall of Famers -- who combined for 16,956 hits, 8,844 RBIs and 2,109 home runs -- have been personally selected by Aaron to lend their expertise to select the best offensive performer in each league.

Do you go with a masher, like Stanton or Cruz? Or do you recognize a guy like Altuve, who led the Majors in batting average and led the AL in stolen bases? Home run kings often fare well in this process, but Chris Davis (53 homers) was trumped last year by Cabrera. And what about Trout, often referred to as the game's best player?

Past winners of the Hank Aaron Award include Cabrera and Goldschmidt (2013); Cabrera and Buster Posey (2012); Bautista and Matt Kemp (2011); Bautista and Joey Votto (2010); Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols (2009); Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis (2008); Rodriguez and Prince Fielder (2007); Jeter and Ryan Howard (2006); Ortiz and Andruw Jones (2005); Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds (2004); Alex Rodriguez and Pujols (2003); Rodriguez and Bonds (2001-02); Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton (2000) and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa (1999).

The award was introduced in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. At that time, it was the first major award introduced by MLB in more than 25 years.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Season-finale loss showcases glimpse of future

Padres end campaign with 77 victories, their most since 2010

Season-finale loss showcases glimpse of future

SAN FRANCISCO -- The game and the season hadn't been finished more than 20 minutes Sunday when Padres manager Bud Black caught himself already looking ahead to 2015.

Even while he was queried after a 9-3 loss to the Giants in the regular-season finale for both teams at AT&T Park, Black spoke at length about the September auditions several young players went through this month and what it might mean for the future.

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Some went better than others. Some of those players, a handful who appeared in Sunday's loss, might figure prominently in the team's plans moving forward.

Players like infielder Cory Spangenberg, who had two hits and knocked in a run Sunday and hit .290 during his first month in the big leagues. While many of his older teammates were no doubt ready to shut things down after a six-month season, the 23-year-old seemed energized, like he was ready to keep playing.

"This [experience] definitely helps," he said. "It's an exciting time. I'm looking forward to next year. I can't wait to get started. The experience was good."

The Padres (77-85) started fast, scoring two runs in the first inning against Giants pitcher Chris Heston. They began with four consecutive hits, including an RBI single by Spangenberg. Seth Smith later had a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning.

The Padres added a run in the third inning when Spangenberg singled, stole second base and scored on a single by Yasmani Grandal, who had eight RBIs in the series.

"He's shown well for himself," Black said of Spangenberg. "This was good for him. The short time that he was here … he performed. He's young, but we think he's got a future ahead of him."

The Giants (88-74) responded quickly, getting a two-run home run by Buster Posey in the bottom of the first inning off Padres pitcher Robbie Erlin (4-5), who allowed four runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings. He had two walks and one strikeout before giving way to reliever Tim Stauffer in the second inning.

"It was a lot of balls in the middle and counts not in his favor," Black said of Erlin. "The fastball funneled back to the middle."

The Giants put the game away by scoring five runs against the Padres' bullpen, who went into the day with the second-lowest ERA in the game (2.68).

Aside from Spangenberg, rookie left-handed reliever Frank Garces was good, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.00 in nine big league innings. Like Spangenberg, Garces began the year with Double-A San Antonio

"We put him in some tough spots," Black said. "Frankie has responded for the most part. We think that there's enough stuff there."

Some of the problems that plagued the Padres all season reared their head Sunday, namely the lack of offense. The team got three runs in the first inning and one more in the third inning and nothing else. In fact, the final 14 hitters were retired in order.

The Padres finished the season with the lowest batting average (.226), fewest runs (535) and the lowest on-base percentage (.292) among all 30 Major League teams. That the team won its most games since 2010 (90) is a testament to its pitching staff, the manager and coaching staff.

The Padres finished with the fourth-best team ERA in baseball (3.27).

"They did a pretty good job," catcher Rene Rivera said of the pitching staff. "I think early in the season, if we scored a little more, we could have won a few more games. But they kept us in a lot of games."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Challenge overturns call at first in seventh

Challenge overturns call at first in seventh

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Bruce Bochy has always been one to stick up for his players, and that was no different in the seventh inning Sunday.

Joe Panik hit a soft dribbler down the third-base line, and Padres pitcher Frank Garces fired to first. First-base umpire Tom Hallion called Panik out, which prompted a challenge from Bochy.

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After a review, the call was overturned.

On the season, Bochy is 22-for-35 in challenges.

 

Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Winter ball important for Grandal, Liriano

Winter ball important for Grandal, Liriano

SAN FRANCISCO -- After Sunday's regular-season finale, when Padres players scatter to various points to begin their offseason, a handful will begin only a short period of unwinding before beginning to play yet again during winter ball.

For two Padres -- catcher/first baseman Yasmani Grandal and rookie outfielder Rymer Liriano -- playing time this winter rates far more important in terms of development than it does for many of their teammates who will also play this winter.

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Grandal, who has caught 75 games but most recently has seen time at first base, will mostly catch this winter in the Dominican Republic.

"He's a guy who wants to play; he's motivated to play," said Padres manager Bud Black. "His knee feels good. He'll be the first to tell you his knee wasn't 100 percent in the first half of the year. But he's very confident in the knee."

Grandal, 25, was limited to 88 at-bats last season after missing the first 50 games due to a suspension and then needing surgery in August to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee following a collision at the plate in a July game in Washington.

"I think with Yazzy, it's just getting at-bats. He missed most of last year with the suspension and the ACL ... so he missed almost a full year of at-bats," Black said. "And this year, he was on a little slower program in Spring Training and early in the year, and now the at-bats are high enough now for him to feel good about where he is physically."

Grandal hit two home runs in Thursday's 9-8 loss to the Giants, including a grand slam. A switch-hitter, he's hit all 15 home runs from the left side and is just now to the point where he's able to turn on a ball from the right side.

Even though he played his 35th game at first base Friday against the Giants, and the team hasn't closed the door on him playing there in the future, it still thinks of him as a catcher.

As for Liriano, 23, he entered Friday hitting .226 in 106 at-bats since being promoted from Triple-A El Paso on Aug. 11. He had struck out 38 times in 117 plate appearances and, according to Black, just needs more seasoning. That could come this winter in the Dominican Republic.

"He needs a lot of at-bats against good pitching," Black said. "... His at-bats can be conducted a little bit better. He's got to be ready for the fastball, be ready in fastball counts.

"There are some technical things in the swing that [hitting coaches Phil Plantier and Alonzo Powell] are working with him on. Here, he's let some good fastballs go without a swing."

Liriano missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery to his left arm. He hit a combined .291 this season in two Minor League stops with 14 home runs and 66 RBIs.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Facing Peavy an odd experience for Padres' Balsley

Former San Diego ace opposes Friars for first time since leaving in '09

Facing Peavy an odd experience for Padres' Balsley

SAN FRANCISCO -- From the top step of the dugout Saturday, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley stood and watched as Jake Peavy slowly walked from the Giants' dugout to the mound for the top of the first inning.

For a moment, Balsley had trouble digesting it all: right player, wrong dugout and certainly the wrong uniform, right?

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"Absolutely. About the only thing I can compare it to was when Trevor [Hoffman] faced us for the first time when he was with the Brewers," Balsley said.

"I think the best way to put it is it's almost like competing against your kids. You want to win, but you also want them to have success, just not against you."

For the first time, Peavy, the former Padre, faced his former club. He allowed one run over five innings Saturday and didn't factor in the decision as the Giants defeated the Padres, 3-1, at AT&T Park.

Peavy, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the Padres in 2007, was 92-68 in parts of eight seasons in San Diego (2002-09) and had a 3.29 ERA in 212 starts. He pitched in the postseason twice (2005-06) before being dealt in the summer of 2009 to the White Sox.

The team he faced Saturday didn't resemble the one he left, as only outfielder Will Venable and pitcher Tim Stauffer are holdovers from when he was with the Padres. But the coaching staff, Balsley and Bud Black, manager of the team, remain.

"I have the utmost respect for that coaching staff, and I always do that when I know or respect the other manager. I always wish them well and good health," Peavy said.

Peavy developed a close relationship with Balsley going back to their days together in the Padres' Minor League system before Balsley was promoted to his current post in May 2003.

"He means a lot to the Padres," Balsley said of Peavy.

Peavy, who threw six shutout innings on Opening Day 2007 here against these Giants, Black's first win as manager, is a different pitcher now. He's 33, the delivery isn't as violent as it once was and his slider, that hard, nasty slider, has mostly been replaced by a cut fastball.

But he still knows how to pitch, how to get hitters out. Since joining the Giants on July 26 in a trade from the Red Sox, he's 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts.

"It was a little different," Black said of watching Peavy pitch in person for someone other than the Padres. "We've seen him on television and in Spring Training before. It's a little different mix of pitches now. Today, he mixed those pitches pretty well. We stressed him a few times. But Jake pitched well."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Unveiling the 2014 All-Prospect Team

Sluggers Bryant and Gallo make the cut, as do pairs of Dodgers, Nationals and Red Sox

Unveiling the 2014 All-Prospect Team

Last week, MLBPipeline.com handed out year-end awards for top hitting and pitching prospects. As much as Kris Bryant and Tyler Glasnow were deserving recipients, it was clear there were many other fantastic performances in 2014 that deserved some attention.

With that in mind, MLBPipeline.com announced its 2014 All-Prospect Team on Friday. There's a prospect for each position, including three outfielders, a DH, a right-handed and left-handed starting pitcher and one reliever. The only requirements were that a player appeared at some point on a team's Top 20 list on Prospect Watch and spent the majority of the year in the Minor Leagues.

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1B: Matt Olson, Oakland A's
Perhaps lost in the shadow of the power displays of Bryant and Joey Gallo, Olson finished third in all of the Minors with 37 home runs. The A's No. 2 prospect also walked 117 times to lead the Minor Leagues, allowing him to finish with a robust .404 OBP and .947 OPS.

2B: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Betts has more than held his own in the big leagues, playing center field and second base. He began the year as the No. 62 prospect on the Top 100, then moved up to No. 14 on the re-ranked list this summer. The jump was thanks to a huge season at Double and Triple-A. Betts hit .346/.431/.529 with 33 steals in 99 games before getting called up to Boston.

SS: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
The fact that Seager hit in the California League surprised no one. Neither did the fact he kept on raking when he reached Double-A. The Dodgers' top prospect hit a combined .349/.402/.602 to win the Minor League batting title, and his .602 slugging percentage was also good for fourth in the Minors. All coming from the shortstop position, while reaching the upper levels of the system at age 20.

3B: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
He was the Hitting Prospect of the Year, after all. The Cubs' top prospect led the Minors in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. He was second in OBP, third in RBIs, and he even stole 15 bases while reaching Triple-A in his first full season.

C: Blake Swihart, Red Sox
Ranked as the No. 2 catcher, Swihart began the year in Double-A and finished it with the International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox in Triple-A. Combined, the switch-hitting 2011 first-round pick hit .293/.341/.469. He also threw out 46 percent of would-be basestealers and improved his defense behind the plate.

OF: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Quick quiz: How many professional baseball players went 30-30 in 2014? One: Pederson. At No. 16 on the Top 100 and No. 3 on the Dodgers' list, Pederson was the only player at any level to accomplish the feat. The outfielder did it in just 121 games and 448 at-bats with Triple-A Albuquerque before receiving a September callup. Pederson not only had 33 homers and 30 steals, he also had a 1.017 OPS, good for fourth in the Minors. Sure, he struck out 149 times, but he also drew 100 walks en route to a .435 OBP, third among Minor Leaguers.

OF: Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals
A raw, toolsy shortstop-turned-outfielder, Taylor had a breakout year, largely in Double-A, in 2014. The Nationals' No. 3 prospect had a 20-30 season (23 home runs, 37 steals), went to the Futures Game and earned his first big league callup. His strikeout rate is still quite high, but his walk rate and OBP improved this year, signs he's moving in a very good direction.

OF: Steven Souza Jr., Washington Nationals
Souza may not have the same marquee value compared to others on this list -- he's one of only two players not on the Top 100 -- but it's impossible to look past the year he had before joining the Nationals. Souza started the year No. 14 on the Nationals' Top 20 and moved to fifth after hitting .345/.427/.577 over 100 Minor League games. His 1.004 OPS was sixth-best among all Minor League hitters, and he stole 28 bases to boot.

DH: Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
Gallo certainly belongs on this list, but he was blocked at his normal position by Bryant. The Rangers' top prospect finished just one homer behind Bryant, narrowly missing out on his second straight Minor League home run crown. More impressive than his power output -- though his Futures Game display will be remembered for a long time -- are the adjustments he made to earn a promotion to Double-A. His approach at the plate matured, and as a result he drew more walks and made more contact, giving him more chances to tap into his plus power.

RHP: Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates
The MLBPipeline.com Pitching Prospect of the Year, Glasnow shook off an early back issue to absolutely dominate the Florida State League. He finished the year with the lowest opponents' batting average among Minor Leaguers and the third lowest ERA. He struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings, which actually lowered his K/9 rate to 12.0 for his career. He also lowered his BB/9 rate by nearly a walk per nine from last season to this one.

LHP: Daniel Norris, Toronto Blue Jays
There were several quality lefty prospects to consider -- four received votes for Pitching Prospect of the Year, and five are among the top 30 overall prospects -- but Norris' season truly does stand out. The 2011 second-round pick began the year in the Florida State League and ended it in the big leagues, putting up eye-popping numbers along the way. The Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect finished fifth in the Minors with 163 strikeouts, held hitters to a .212 batting average and finished with a 2.53 ERA. His 11.8 K/9 rate was coupled with a 3.1 BB/9 mark.

RP: R.J. Alvarez, San Diego Padres
Alvarez began the year as the Angels' No. 7 prospect, but was dealt to the Padres in the Huston Street deal. He's not on the Padres Top 20 currently, but he's pitched as though he belongs. Between the two organizations, Alvarez posted a 1.25 ERA in 38 relief appearances, striking out 12.7 per nine while walking 2.7. Hitters managed just a .192 batting average against him in the Minors, and he's been just as stingy during his big league debut this September.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Stults finishes strong as Padres lose late

Starter allows one run in seven innings; Thayer gives up pair in eighth

Stults finishes strong as Padres lose late

SAN FRANCISCO -- In danger of losing his spot in the rotation and with his ERA seemingly headed toward infinity, Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults looked for help in July, asking pitching coach Darren Balsley for ideas on how to remedy all that was troubling him.

There was a mechanical fix and the addition of an upbeat tempo in delivery that paid dividends during the second half, as Stults looked like a completely different pitcher, a pattern that continued Saturday even as the Padres fell to the Giants, 3-1, at AT&T Park.

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Stults didn't factor in the final decision -- the Giants scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Dale Thayer -- but he did what he's mostly done since the start of August: kept his team close, allowing one run on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

Whereas Stults' first three months weren't much to look at -- he was 3-13 with a 5.22 ERA in 21 starts -- his final 11 starts were more than just competitive.

The left-hander went 5-4 with a 2.74 ERA, and that record might have been even better had he not been saddled with the fourth-worst run support in baseball.

"The biggest thing was wanting to find some consistency," Stults said. "I picked up my tempo and made a mechanical fix [a higher leg kick]. I tried to keep the mindset that I wanted to finish strong."

Stults was gone by the time this one turned in favor of the Giants.

In the eighth inning, Gary Brown reached on an infield single and was forced at second base on a ground ball by Matt Duffy that second baseman Cory Spangenberg threw away attempting to finish a double play at first base. That allowed Duffy to advance to second base.

Thayer (4-5) intentionally walked Brandon Belt and walked Andrew Susac to load the bases for pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval. He struck out Sandoval but allowed the single to Crawford on the first pitch.

Former Padres pitcher Jake Peavy made his first start against his former team, allowing one run on four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out three, needing 92 pitches to get 15 outs.

Peavy pitched parts of eight seasons for the Padres from 2002 until 2009, when he was traded to the White Sox at the Trade Deadline.

Trailing, 1-0, the Padres (77-84) tied the game in the fifth inning as Will Venable -- who with pitcher Tim Stauffer are the only Padres players who previously played with Peavy -- singled and went to third base on Spangenberg's double. He scored on Yasmani Grandal's sacrifice fly.

"It was a little different," Padres manager Bud Black said of watching Peavy pitch in person for someone other than the Padres. "We've seen him on television and in Spring Training before. It's a little different mix of pitches now. Today, he mixed those pitches pretty well. We stressed him a few times. But Jake pitched well."

The Giants (87-74) got a run off Stults in the first inning as Duffy -- who had two hits -- singled and scored on a double to right field by Belt.

Rookie Hunter Strickland got the victory in relief for the Giants, his first big league win.

Spangenberg had two hits and two stolen bases. He's hitting .276 in his first 19 games since he was called up from Double-A San Antonio earlier this month.

"It's a learning curve for him," Black said. "He has above-average speed and plays with an aggressive style. His speed is a weapon."

The two teams will play the regular-season finale Sunday.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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 closes out season with strong win

Starter passes 200-innings mark, allows no earned runs vs. Giants

Kennedy closes out season with strong win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wins are wonderful and strikeouts can be stupendous, but for Padres manager Bud Black, there's always been one statistical mark that truly measured the impact of a starting pitcher the best -- innings pitched.

On Friday, pitcher Ian Kennedy reached a notable statistical plateau, allowing one unearned run as the Padres edged the Giants, 4-1, before a sold-out crowd at AT&T Park.

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Kennedy surpassed the 200-innings mark, limiting the Giants to four hits in seven innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He finished the season with 201 innings, a 13-13 record and a 3.63 ERA. And, no, he said, the innings total didn't sneak up on him.

"It's one of those goals you set -- 200 innings means a guy stays in the game, that he stays durable," said Kennedy. "Durability is important is me. It means you're staying healthy."

It means everything to Black, a former pitcher himself who pitched during an era where 200 innings wasn't the benchmark it is in today's era, with starting pitchers' workloads being monitored more than ever and with bullpen specialization being more prevalent.

"Two hundred [innings] is a high standard in today's era. For me, the responsibility of a starting pitcher and what he means to a team is huge," Black said.

Kennedy (13-13) became one of nine starting pitchers in 2014 to eclipse 200 strikeouts and 200 innings in the same season.

The victory gave the Padres (77-83) their most victories since 2010, when they won 90 games and were not eliminated from postseason consideration until the final day of the regular season.

On Friday, the Padres scored first, getting a run in the first inning before Ryan Vogelsong settled into a groove.

With one out, Will Venable singled and later moved up when catcher Andrew Susac was charged with a passed ball. With two outs, Venable was able to score when Yasmani Grandal -- who hit two home runs Thursday -- singled up the middle, a ball that second baseman Joe Panik nearly flagged down.

San Francisco starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (8-13) looked good early, allowing an unearned run over the first five innings of the game.

But he ran into trouble in the sixth inning, allowing a one-out double to Jedd Gyorko and then a walk to Grandal. Seth Smith followed with an RBI double off the wall in right for a 2-1 lead. Rene Rivera broke his bat on a soft single to center field that scored two more runs.

Vogelsong allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.

The Giants (86-74) got their run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Crawford.

Then, in the sixth inning, the Giants put two runners on against Kennedy, but he struck out Travis Ishikawa and Susac to end the inning.

Kevin Quackenbush worked a scoreless eighth inning and Joaquin Benoit worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 11th save.

But this one was more about the guy who began the game, not about the ones who finished it.

Kennedy's first full season with the Padres saw him make all but one of his starts. A minor oblique injury kept him from one start and he admitted that he wasn't quite 100 percent for four or so starts after he came back, though he was still plenty good.

"It's a testament to Ian," Black said. "He's held his stuff from April to right now."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Homer barrage doesn't hold up for Padres

Grandal slugs two of four long balls, including first career grand slam

Homer barrage doesn't hold up for Padres

SAN FRANCISCO -- No team in the big leagues has scored fewer runs than the Padres, so you can imagine the relief and elation that rolled through the visiting dugout at AT&T Park on Thursday as San Diego not only got back into a game it once trailed by six runs, but actually took a late lead.

But on a night when the Padres and Giants combined for 17 runs on 23 hits -- including six home runs -- it was a squeeze bunt by rookie Matt Duffy that made the difference as the Giants saved the final rally for themselves, holding on for a 9-8 victory.

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See if you can keep track of this one:

The Giants (86-73) led 6-0 after five innings, allowed eight runs over the next two innings before then managing to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the seventh with three runs, the last on Duffy's bunt, which allowed Hunter Pence to race home.

Trailing, 6-0, the Padres (76-83) scored three runs in the sixth inning and five more in the seventh inning to take an 8-6 lead, as Yasmani Grandal's second home run of the game, a grand slam, proved to be the big blow in the inning. Rene Rivera also had a home run in that seventh inning.

Grandal's grand slam, his 15th home run of the season and first slam of his career, came off Giants reliever Jean Machi. It gave the Padres a 7-6 lead. He raised his right arm after dropping the bat in celebration.

"Just to get the opportunity to put that up on the scoreboard after being down by six was huge," Grandal said. "A lot of balls were flying out today."

It was the Padres' first four-homer game since hitting four against the Giants on July 14, 2013, at Petco Park.

"[Four home runs] in a ballpark not conducive for homers, either," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We put some good swings on the ball and on their bullpen."

Earlier in the game, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford each hit home runs and Pablo Sandoval knocked in three of his four runs as the Giants took what appeared to be a safe six-run lead into the sixth inning.

All appeared well, as earlier in the day, the Giants clinched a spot in the National League Wild Card game when the Brewers lost to the Reds.

The Giants scored at least one run in each of the first five innings against pitcher Andrew Cashner, who yielded six earned runs on eight hits in five innings with one walk and four strikeouts.

"Their game plan was different than the other night," Cashner said. "... There were a couple of tough at-bats here and there and a couple of close pitches. But overall, there were more balls left up in the zone than down in the zone."

The six earned runs tied the most Cashner has allowed as a starter with the Padres. He also allowed six against the Rockies (Sept. 14, 2012) and the Nationals (July 5, 2013).

"They were looking for the ball up and he couldn't get his slider in a good spot," Black said. "He couldn't locate his pitches early in the count."

San Francisco pitcher Yusmeiro Petit allowed a single to Will Venable with one out in the first inning and then set down 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.

The Padres started their comeback in the sixth inning when Cory Spangenberg singled and scored as Will Venable hit an opposite-field home run to left-center.

Grandal added his first home run of the game, a solo shot off the right-field foul pole, later in the inning to cut the lead to 6-3 and end Petit's night.

Tim Lincecum, who has thrown no-hitters in each of the past two seasons against the Padres, earned the victory in relief -- win No. 100 for his career -- by throwing two pitches. He's 11-9. Blaine Boyer (0-1) took the loss for the Padres with rookie Frank Garces being tagged with a blown save.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Wieland's first win fueled by Medica's home run

Padres now have most victories at home in Petco Park history

Wieland's first win fueled by Medica's home run

SAN DIEGO -- In 11 seasons at Petco Park, the Padres have won two NL West titles and factored in two other playoff races that ended on the season's final day. But they had never won as many as 48 games in their downtown San Diego home -- until Wednesday night, that is.

With a 4-3 victory over Colorado -- the first career win for embattled righty Joe Wieland -- the Padres wrapped up their most successful home campaign since 1998 and tied their third highest home win total ever.

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And the victory was sweetest of all for the 24-year-old Wieland, who missed almost two seasons after Tommy John surgery in July 2012. He allowed three runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings and was admittedly on pins and needles as the bullpen closed it out.

"To be honest with you, I had to hold back some tears," Wieland said. "It's been a long road. Getting called up, I didn't think it would take 29 months to get the first win. It just makes it that much more special."

Wednesday marked Wieland's second start and fourth appearance of the season. Until this month, he hadn't pitched since May 26, 2012, because of the surgery.

After the game Wieland was greeted by teammates with a beer shower in the clubhouse, and he took home the game ball, lineup card and his jersey as keepsakes.

"It's a lifelong dream to be a winning pitcher in a Major League game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Not many people who start out playing Little League baseball ... can say that they've won a Major League game. It's a very good feeling, and it's a great sense of accomplishment."

The Padres fell behind instantly, when Wieland hung a 1-2 curveball to Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, who launched it into the right-field seats. But no sequence demonstrated Wieland's poise on Wednesday night better than Blackmon's next at-bat.

Once again, Wieland worked a 1-2 count, and he didn't shy away from the hook. In fact, Wieland threw the same pitch in the same spot, only this time he executed -- and he fanned Blackmon on a nasty down-and-in curve to end the third.

"For that second at-bat: same count, same sequence, this time I backed off a little bit, got some more depth and I put it in the dirt," Wieland said. "Big difference."

The Padres closed out their home slate with a typical 2014 Petco Park display -- impressive starting pitching, enough offense and a shutdown effort from the league's best bullpen.

In the bottom of the first, Tommy Medica gave the Padres the lead with a three-run homer off Rockies righty Yohan Flande. The ball landed in the first deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

"He threw a couple sinkers in, and I couldn't pull the trigger," Medica said. "I wanted to hit them, but I just couldn't. He went right back to it, and I got the head out and hit the home run."

The Padres extended the advantage in the fourth, aided by a Medica double that kicked up chalk down the right-field line and was ruled fair only after the first of two challenges by Black in the frame.

The Rockies plated two off Wieland in the sixth, but right-hander R.J. Alvarez worked out of a jam, and the bullpen continued its dominance with 3 2/3 shutout frames.

"In the sixth inning I didn't exactly leave them in an easy spot," Wieland said. "I put R.J. in a tough situation. So I just thank those guys for shutting the door."

The home crowd of 38,589 gave the Padres a season figure of 2,195,373 -- the largest since 2008. The Padres rewarded those fans by finishing the second half undefeated (9-0-1) in series play.

"Look at the schedule and look at the teams that came in here," Black said. "[Forty-eight wins] is a good number. These guys can feel good about that."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Padres to focus on bats in offseason

Padres to focus on bats in offseason

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Bud Black got a bit nostalgic Wednesday afternoon during his final pregame media session at Petco Park this season. More specifically, he spent some time revisiting where the Padres stood at this point a year ago.

Entering the offseason last September, the Padres felt as though they had a lineup that was more or less set, Black said. This year, it's the pitching staff that looks stable, and the offense that could see a bit of a reshuffling come Hot Stove season.

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"If you look back a year ago, and you look at our roster, it looked pretty steady at what was going to happen the following spring," Black said, before listing this season's originally projected starters, position by position.

"We were pretty set, and I think that's definitely changed this year. I don't know whether uncertain is the word. But I do think there will be some roster construction more so than last year."

A number of position players who put up solid years in 2013 have struggled this season, including (but not limited to) Jedd Gyorko, Will Venable and Everth Cabrera. As a result, the Padres' 515 runs entering play Wednesday are the fewest in baseball, and it's not even close.

Conversely, the pitching staff is on pace to set a franchise record for fewest runs allowed per game and features a bullpen -- the best in the National League ERA-wise -- with just one free agent (right-hander Tim Stauffer).

The obvious question is just how valuable that pitching is, and whether it's worth dealing parts of it to acquire bats.

"I'll answer it this way: We've pitched well all year, and there's an adage that good pitching beats good hitting," Black said. "... If you trade out of a strength, you'd better have guys to replace them. You'd better make sure that you're getting the right guy back."

The quartet of Gyorko, Cabrera, Venable and Yonder Alonso averaged a 45-point dip in batting average this season. And Gyorko, Cabrera and Alonso all spent significant time on the disabled list.

Ultimately, it's new general manager A.J. Preller who will be calling the shots as far as offseason moves are concerned. Before it comes to that, he'll have to conjecture which returning players might revert to their form of 2013 or earlier.

"We had a lot of guys that had down years," Black said. "Can you bounce back? Of course. Are they going to? I don't have the crystal ball."

Worth noting

• During the eighth inning of Wednesday's home finale, the Padres announced they will be installing an HD scoreboard in place of the model currently overlooking the left-field seats at Petco Park. The club said further details about the scoreboard will be announced in the near future.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Fortunes split on pair of replay challenges

Fortunes split on pair of replay challenges

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Bud Black challenged a pair of close plays down the first-base line in the fourth inning of Wednesday's Padres-Rockies game, and he finished the frame 1-for-2.

With a man on first base and no one out, Padres left fielder Tommy Medica used the entire field for his fourth-inning double -- a double that wasn't even awarded until a review proved the ball had landed fair, kicking up chalk on the right-field foul line.

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But first-base umpire and crew chief Jerry Meals ruled the ball foul, prompting Padres first-base coach Jose Valentin to march toward Black in the dugout, asking for a challenge.

Turns out, Valentin got it right, and Medica was awarded second base after a review overturned the call. Yasmani Grandal went to third.

Grandal later scored, making it 4-1 Padres, but Medica was stranded after Padres pitcher Joe Wieland was tagged out trying to beat an infield grounder. Rockies shortstop Josh Rutledge threw wide to first base, but first baseman Justin Morneau applied a leaping swipe tag.

After a replay, the call was confirmed and Wieland was outl.

Black has now been successful on 17 of his 33 challenges this season.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Padres' five-game win streak halted on late homer

Thayer allows solo shot in eighth; Rockies defense robs Friars

Padres' five-game win streak halted on late homer

SAN DIEGO -- You're probably aware by now about the noise and mark the Rockies can make with their bats, but on Tuesday the biggest difference between victory and defeat against the Padres might have actually been because of their defense.

Left fielder Brandon Barnes and second baseman DJ LeMahieu each made run-saving defensive plays in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Rockies hung on for a 3-2 win over the Padres in front of a crowd of 33,669 at Petco Park.

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Drew Stubbs hit an opposite-field home run for Colorado to start the eighth inning, breaking a tie before the Rockies (66-92) got two decisive plays in the field to hold on for the victory in the second game of a three-game set. The series concludes at 6:10 p.m. PT on Wednesday.

Barnes saved a home run by making a well-timed leaping grab of Rene Rivera's line drive at the fence in left field to start the eighth inning.

"I hit it well, good hard contact," Rivera said. "I hit it fine. He made a great catch. Sometimes you've just got to tip your hat."

Barnes admitted to having a little fun with some fans before and after the catch.

"One of the guys [in the stands] said, 'He's going to hit a homer right here,' and I said, 'No, I'm going to rob it.' I robbed it and when I got up, I said, 'I told you so,'" Barnes said.

"That's fun. We're here for the fans."

Later in the inning, with two runners on, LeMahieu robbed Alexi Amarista of an RBI single by smothering a ground ball in the hole between first and second base. He then threw to first base for the final out of the inning, preserving the one-run lead.

"That was a big play as well," said Padres manager Bud Black.

The Rockies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, getting a run in the third inning as Justin Morneau had a two-out, run-scoring single to score Rafael Ynoa, who doubled with one out.

They added a run the following inning on the third of three singles, this one by LeMahieu, as Barnes -- who singled to start the inning -- raced around for a 2-0 lead.

San Diego pitcher Robbie Erlin, getting a start for Tyson Ross, allowed two runs on six hits over his four innings of work. Erlin walked two, struck out two and needed 83 pitches to get 12 outs.

"The fastball into righties, he just couldn't get there," Black said. "He ran some deep counts and just wasn't about to execute the fastball."

Erlin was filling in for Ross, who was shut down for the remainder of the season Tuesday after he came down with soreness and fatigue in his right arm that was later diagnosed as a slight strain of his flexor tendon muscles.

Colorado pitcher Jorge De La Rosa allowed two runs on seven hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. Juan Nicasio (6-6) got the victory by tossing a scoreless seventh inning.

The Padres (75-82) got a run back in the sixth inning as they got to De La Rosa for three hits, including an RBI single with two outs by rookie Rymer Liriano that scored Jedd Gyorko. Amarista later singled into left to drive in Tommy Medica with the tying run.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Free-agent-to-be Stauffer could head elsewhere

Free-agent-to-be Stauffer could head elsewhere

SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Tim Stauffer, the longest-tenured Padres player, could very well be in his final week with the only organization that he's ever known.

Stauffer, who is in his 11th season in the organization, will be a free agent after the season and there's a chance he could end up pitching elsewhere in 2015.

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"I don't think it's quite hit home yet," Stauffer said. "We'll see how things shake out but there's a pretty good chance I may be somewhere else. I'll try to save these last days if they are the last days. Whatever happens, I'll always have good memories of here.

"I can only say good things about the Padres. They stuck with me through some tough times."

It's certainly been a wild ride for Stauffer, 32, who was the fourth-overall Draft pick in 2003. He made it to the big leagues in 2005, starting his first game for the team. He won a big game against the Dodgers in 2006 and counted current bench coach Dave Roberts as a teammate.

"I've spent about a third of my life here," Stauffer joked.

Stauffer missed 2008 after having shoulder surgery and then in 2012 had elbow surgery, which led to him signing a Minor League deal with the team before the 2013 season. In between, he established himself in 2010, posting a 1.85 ERA in 82 2/3 innings and started Opening Day in 2010.

Oh, and don't forget the time that Stauffer performed a self-diagnosis of what became an emergency appendectomy with his iPhone in 2010.

Get all that? Because, at times, Stauffer probably isn't quite sure it all really happened.

"There were a lot of little things here and there, some ups and downs. Injuries are the tough part of the business. But I've been resilient," Stauffer said. "The 2010 season was pretty memorable for me … that group of guys, I felt I had a hand in that, getting to that last game, it wasn't for lack of effort."

Stauffer, who is 6-2 this season with a 3.66 ERA in 41 relief appearances, has a 3.36 ERA since 2010 over 402 innings in 148 games, including 42 starts. He would like to start again, which is why Stauffer would consider an offer to pitch elsewhere.

"I still feel, physically, as good if not better than I did when I was in my mid-20s," he said. "Getting that opportunity [to start] would be nice. I just want to pitch. But I'm pretty open to different roles."

San Diego manager Bud Black isn't quite ready to close the door on Stauffer's time with the Padres.

"I've seen Tim grow up in a lot of different ways," Black said. "He showed determination through his time here. It's been great to witness him grow up, a guy who fought through shoulder surgery and become a valuable part of our most successful team in 2010 and be unselfish. A great teammate and always could be counted on to do the right thing.

"I've told Tim that I'm so happy he's healthy and that he's throwing the ball well. So we'll see what happens, but let's hope that it happens for him here."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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 collects NL Player of Week Award

Cashner collects NL Player of Week Award

Padres starter Andrew Cashner was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Majors in innings and going 2-0 from Sept. 15-21.

The righty allowed two earned runs while striking out 14 and walking two over 17 innings. It's his first career weekly award.

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In Cashner's first start of the week Monday, he notched his second shutout of the season -- and third of his career -- by blanking the Phillies. He struck out seven and walked one, needing just 92 pitches in the two-hitter.

By doing so, Cashner became one of just four active pitchers to have thrown three or more shutouts in his first 50 career Major League starts (Derek Holland, Jaime Garcia and J.A. Happ). The 92 pitches were also the second lowest for a Padres hurler in a shutout (Clay Hensley in 2006).

As an encore, Cashner held the Giants to two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. He improved to 4-2 with a 1.93 ERA in six starts since returning from the disabled list on August 23.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Stults, Rivera carry Padres past Rockies

Lefty tosses 6 1/3 scoreless innings; catcher drives in lone run

Stults, Rivera carry Padres past Rockies

SAN DIEGO -- At 34 years old, and as someone who has pitched professionally since 2002, Eric Stults has been around long enough to know when to step on the gas and when to pump the brakes.

He did a little bit of both in the fifth inning of the Padres' 1-0 victory over the Rockies on Monday and it paid big dividends as the left-hander worked himself out of a potentially sticky situation at Petco Park.

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With two outs and runners on second and third base, Stults attempted to get All-Star Charlie Blackmon to chase after a few pitches out of the strike zone, essentially pitching around him with first base open. That led to a walk, which brought up Josh Rutledge.

"I knew with a base open I didn't want to give him [Blackmon] anything good to hit there. I felt confident going up against Rutledge and was willing to challenge him. He was fighting off fastballs and I was finally able to sneak one by him," Stults said of the 90 mph fastball he pushed past Rutledge to end the inning.

All told, Stults (8-17) allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings with one walk and five strikeouts and the bullpen did the rest as the Padres (75-81) won the first game of a three-game series before a crowd of 19,770.

Stults' ability to work out of that jam in the fifth inning was one of the few hair-raising moments in this one, even though the Rockies (65-92) had twice as many hits (10) as the Padres.

Colorado starting pitcher Tyler Matzek (6-11) allowed one run over six innings on four hits. He walked three and had eight strikeouts.

It went for naught, though, as Stults and relievers Nick Vincent, Frank Garces, Dale Thayer and Kevin Quackenbush held the Rockies without a run.

"We couldn't cash in. We had a couple of opportunities. He's [Stults] been tough on us," said Colorado manager Walt Weiss. "He keeps you in a rocking chair. He adds and subtracts, on both sides of the plate, pitches backwards and commands the ball. He was pitching tonight."

The Padres got the lone run of the game off Matzek in the first inning as Jedd Gyorko walked with two outs and scored as Rene Rivera doubled to the gap in right-center field for his 41st RBI of the season.

The Padres loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning against Matzek, who struck out Tommy Medica and Rymer Liriano to end the inning.

DJ LeMahieu and Justin Morneau each finished with two hits for the Rockies. Morneau had a leadoff double in the eighth inning but the Rockies couldn't capitalize as Thayer got the next three hitters out. Quackenbush followed with three outs in the ninth inning for his sixth save.

But this one was all about Stults, who struggled early in the season but has a 2.92 ERA over his last 10 starts.

"He's kept at it, because that's how his mentality is," Gyorko said. "He'll battle his [rear] off. The way he has pitched in the second half has been impressive."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Padres back Kennedy in sweeping Giants

Maybin singles home two in four-run sixth; Grandal drives in three

Padres back Kennedy in sweeping Giants

SAN DIEGO -- If you didn't know better and weren't privy to the National League standings, you might have thought it was the Padres and not the Giants who were deep in the hunt for a spot in the playoff race based on what happened at Petco Park.

The Padres, long since eliminated from the postseason chase, completed a three-game sweep Sunday with an 8-2 victory, getting strong starting pitching, several good defensive plays and enough hitting to make it all work.

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"Good games -- I'm proud of the way we played," said Padres manager Bud Black. "That's a tremendous team over there [the Giants]. They have experience, they have All-Stars.

"But we play hard. That's a good series for us. I'm happy for the guys."

For the third time in as many days, the Padres (74-81) got another strong performance from a starting pitcher, as Ian Kennedy (12-13) took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning before eventually allowing a two-run home run to Chris Dominguez for his first big league hit.

"I executed pitches," said Kennedy, who allowed two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. "I'm getting ahead of guys and staying on top of my fastball."

Kennedy's seventh-inning strikeout of Hunter Pence gave him a career-best 200 strikeouts and allowed him to become the first Padres pitcher to reach that mark since Jake Peavy did so in 2007, when he had 240 strikeouts. Peavy won the NL Cy Young Award that season.

Kennedy's start followed gems by Odrisamer Despaigne (seven shutout innings) on Friday and Andrew Cashner (two runs in eight-plus innings) on Saturday.

"We've pitched really well," Black said.

San Francisco pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (8-12) didn't allow a hit until Seth Smith doubled to start the fifth inning. That hit directly led to the Padres' first run, as Smith later scored on Alexi Amarista's sacrifice fly to center field, his eighth RBI during the first seven games of this homestand.

Leading, 1-0, the Padres added four runs in the sixth inning, two on outs -- a sacrifice fly by Yasmani Grandal and a ground-ball out by Rene Rivera. Cameron Maybin added a two-run single.

A throwing error in the inning by third baseman Pablo Sandoval led to two unearned runs.

The Padres added three more runs in the seventh inning, two on a double by Grandal and one more on a single by Rivera.

The Padres are now 46-32 at Petco Park this season.

"This is a tough place. They have a good staff and you have to play your best ball. We didn't do it. They outplayed us and that's the bottom line," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Vogelsong allowed four runs, two earned, on four hits in five-plus innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Amarista saved a run from scoring in the fifth inning when he smothered a ball up the middle off the bat of Vogelsong that was headed into center field. Vogelsong was credited with a single but the Giants left the bases loaded as Gregor Blanco flied out to center field.

The Giants (84-71) are now tied with the Pirates for the Wild Card lead and will likely face each other Oct. 1, though if the teams end up tied, the Pirates -- who own the tiebreaker -- would host that game.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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Despaigne dealing with sore lat muscle

Padres unsure if rookie, Ross will start again this season

Despaigne dealing with sore lat muscle

SAN DIEGO -- Seven shutout innings vs. the Giants in Friday's series opener still fresh in everyone's mind, the Padres' thoughts a day later turned to whether right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne will be up to starting again before season's end.

Despaigne was nursing a sore right latissimus dorsi muscle Saturday, a condition Padres manager Bud Black said popped up about the time the rookie exited Friday's game after fanning six, walking one and running his dazzling of the Giants this year to 20 innings, during which he's allowed just one total run.

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"We'll try and resolve it in the next four days," Black said, referring to Despaigne's next scheduled start Thursday against the Rockies in this season's home finale.

As the days fall off what's left of the calendar, the Padres also do not know if Tyson Ross will make another start, either. According to the manager, Ross played catch Friday and still felt some general soreness in his forearm.

The Padres slotted lefty Robbie Erlin into last Thursday night's start in place of Ross after saying he had some "general soreness" toward the end of a season in which he has thrown a career-high 195 2/3 innings. Both the Padres and Ross have said that it is nothing significant, but they want to err on the side of caution after Ross' heavy workload in which he's started 31 times, compiled a 13-14 record and 2.81 ERA and was named to the NL All-Star team.

Despaigne, meanwhile, is 4-7 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 starts.

As things stand now, the Padres will start Ian Kennedy in Sunday's series finale against the Giants, lefty Eric Stults in Monday's series opener against the Rockies and Erlin for Tuesday's start against the Rockies. 

Black said he is leaving Wednesday's start as "TBA." Joe Wieland is a candidate for that day, and Black mentioned rookie Jesse Hahn and veteran Tim Stauffer as a couple of guys who could pick up a couple of innings as well.

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

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Cashner does it all as Padres hold off Giants

Right-hander takes shutout bid into ninth, hits single, triple

Cashner does it all as Padres hold off Giants

SAN DIEGO -- Andrew Cashner fits into Petco Park like a present inside of gift-wrapping, cake into a birthday party. His home dominance is such that opponents, whoever they are, usually are whisked, battered and baked. Cupcakes, one and all. But forget, for just one moment, his arm. And let's talk about his bat, and then move along to his legs.

The guy throttled the Giants every which way but sideways Saturday night, delivering a 3-2 blistering that prevented them from picking up a game on the Dodgers and left dents all across their exterior.

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"He's an athlete," raved catcher Rene Rivera. "He can do it all."

Cashner unexpectedly walked in the third, snapping a string of 70 consecutive batters in which San Francisco starter Yusmeiro Petit didn't even go to a three-ball count.

He ripped a triple into the left-field corner in the third -- the first by a Major League pitcher this season -- zooming around the bases like a league-champion sprinter.

He stunned the Giants with a beautiful bunt single in San Diego's two-run sixth, giving him a 1.000 on-base percentage and four total bases on the night.

In the end, it was one of the rare times you'll ever see a starting pitcher rack up nearly as many total bases in one outing as he allows. Through the ninth, he had held the Giants to three total bases.

But Hunter Pence blasted a homer to start the ninth and Joe Panik followed with a single, chasing Cashner and finally catapulting the Giants ahead of Cashner's total base sum.

Desperate for a win to slice the Dodgers' National League West lead, Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco each scratched singles against the Padres' Kevin Quackenbush to close to within 3-2. But the Padres reliever induced a fly ball to left field from Brandon Crawford with the tying and go-ahead runs aboard.

"Man, those are varsity players for the Giants," Padres manager Bud Black said of Quackenbush threading his way through the ninth, a tension-filled inning keyed by him throwing a called third-strike past Brandon Belt after Sandoval's single.

Meanwhile, in flirting with his second consecutive home shutout, Cashner retired 15 consecutive Giants from the fourth through the eighth before surrendering the Pence homer.

Until then, he had allowed only three baserunners all evening, roadblocking each one of them from advancing to second. His night finally was finished when the rookie Panik followed Pence's homer with a sharp single, just the Giants' seventh total base recorded against the big Padres right-hander on the evening.

It was no way for the Giants to perform on a night on which they had a golden chance to gain a game in the NL West standings, given that the Dodgers earlier in the day lost a big lead in an 8-7 defeat at Wrigley Field.

But it was totally business as usual for Cashner.

Five days after he dominated the Phillies with a two-hit shutout, he threatened to replicate the feat.

And against Petit, who retired 46 consecutive batters during a particularly heady stretch in July and August, Cashner took his hacks with confidence.

"I told Darin [Balsley, Padres pitching coach] that if Cash was ever in the American League, he'd go crazy," Black said. "He enjoys pinch-running on the days he's not starting. He takes pride in his ability to be a complete player."

"Pretty cool," Cashner said of the triple. "When I was coming out of the box, I was thinking triple. Going to second base, I saw the ball hit the corner and told myself to keep going."

He probably could have made it into third standing up. Instead, knowing that he's always been taught that it's a whole lot easier to slide than it is to attempt to stop quick on a dime while in full-sprint mode, he executed a textbook slide that any Spring Training instructor could have used as an example.

"I didn't start pitching until my senior year of high school," Cashner said. "I played shortstop, center field, catcher. I loved to hit.

"I like to be a part of the nine guys."

So that was in the fifth inning. In the sixth, he deftly scanned the infield while he was at the plate and went to his short game.

"Pablo had been playing me in all night," he said.

Now, he noticed, Sandoval was back.

"In that situation, I thought if I could get a bunt into that area, I could get it to one of the guys who get paid to hit," Cashner said.

Bingo. The man who noted he practices bunting like that in batting practice looked like a man who puts a little elbow grease into it.

By that point, he also looked like he should be a guy who gets paid to hit, too.

"Pretty awesome," Black said.

"Outstanding," Rivera said.

And Cashner?

"I don't want to go to the American League," he said, chuckling, when someone said good thing he's not marooned in the land of the designated hitter. "The American League is not for me."

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

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MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Preller looking forward to working with Black

New GM's quest to improve Padres will include current manager

Preller looking forward to working with Black

SAN DIEGO -- As A.J. Preller has gone about the task of evaluating the Padres in his first months as general manger, he has defined one area that is not a problem: He is bullish about the job Bud Black is doing as manager.

Preller is so pleased with the play of the team since he was hired Aug. 6 to replace Josh Byrnes, there is no doubt Black will be back to manage the Padres in 2015, his ninth season.

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"Like I said from the beginning, I viewed it as Buddy is our manager," Preller said during an interview this weekend outside San Diego's clubhouse at Petco Park. "I had a chance to really enjoy the last month, to get to know him more on a day-to-day basis, getting to be around him and getting his thoughts on the team and his thoughts on baseball in general.

"I came from afar and had a very positive feel for Buddy. I think being up close, being with him day to day, probably strengthened that bond, honestly."

Asked pointedly if he looked forward to working with Black for an entire season, Preller responded:

"Yes, I'm looking forward to that for sure."

So there you have it. The Padres exercised an option on Black's contract for the 2014-15 seasons on Nov. 19, 2012, shortly after the current ownership took over the club. He has his deal. Black is coming back for the final year of his contract.

"I love managing here in San Diego," Black said. "This is where I've managed my entire managerial career. I think all of us managers never take lightly the responsibility that we have. I'm excited to continue to be a Padre."

Preller said this is the core reason for that decision.

"You see the fact that the team plays hard every night," he said. "They've definitely taken this thing to the finish line. As a group, they play with energy, they're coming hard, they're playing pretty good baseball overall. And I think that's reflective on the coaching staff and the manager, for sure."

Preller's candor and honesty is quite refreshing. Black has a 612-676 record and a .475 winning percentage (heading into Saturday night's action) since he was hired to replace the departed Bruce Bochy at the end of the 2006 season.

Black was an accomplished left-handed pitcher with 121 Major League victories and a well-respected pitching coach with the Angels under Mike Scioscia before the Padres gave him his first chance to manage. Twice during his tenure, Black had San Diego on the brink of reaching the playoffs. In 2007, the Padres lost a tiebreaker game for the National League Wild Card in the bottom of the 13th inning at Coors Field when Trevor Hoffman blew the save. In 2010, they missed the chance to reach another tiebreaker game for the NL Wild Card when the Giants beat them in San Francisco on the final day of the regular season.

Otherwise, what has happened this year has been the hallmark of Black's managerial career: resurrecting a team that floundered during the first half and returning them to some modicum of respectability before the end of that particular season. Preller is the fourth GM Black is working for during his tenure, and the roster has been marked by inconsistency and a constantly changing cast of characters. For Black to have survived all that tumult and remain as manager is unusual, to say the least.

"No matter who's been in that position, these were baseball guys dealing with the state of the club, and I've always been part of those discussions," Black said.

Preller himself survived an arduous interview process this summer and signed a five-year contract as San Diego sought a replacement for Byrnes.

Preller's main job is rebuild a farm system that hasn't produced an impact first-rounder in the First-Year Player Draft since Kevin McReynolds in 1981, the same Draft in which then-GM Jack McKeon also selected the late Tony Gwynn in the third round.

Working under Jon Daniels as an assistant GM with the Rangers, Preller gained a reputation for sorting through international talent. The Padres harvested Puerto Rico in the 1980s for Benito Santiago, Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Carlos Baerga. But despite San Diego's proximity to the Mexican border, the club has never developed an impact player born in that nation. Likewise, despite spending millions of dollars a decade ago to build a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic -- a country that produced the likes of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alberto Pujols and Pedro Martinez -- the Padres have never had a Dominican on their roster of any repute.

Preller said he will go into the offseason looking for impact players rather than earmark special needs or specific positions, although it's obvious that San Diego, with an NL-leading 3.25 ERA and a Major League-low .226 team batting average, is desperately in need of hitting over pitching.

"We'll look at any area where we need to improve," said Preller, adding that management is on board to make the Padres competitive again in the NL West.

"I definitely think I have the support of ownership. From the first interview, I felt like at end of the day it's an ownership group that shares a vision and basically is trying to build something successful for both the short and long term. I feel they're going to commit, that they're going to do what needs to be done from an atmosphere standpoint, from a player's standpoint, that the resources will be there to make the right acquisitions."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com 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.

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Sprained ankle forces Almonte's early exit

Padres outfielder had missed time with injury in different part of same leg

Sprained ankle forces Almonte's early exit

SAN DIEGO -- Padres left fielder Abraham Almonte left Saturday's game in the third inning with a left ankle sprain, pulling up lame after stroking a ground-rule double vs. the Giants.

Almonte, who had started only once over the past 11 games after suffering a high left ankle sprain Sept. 6, drove a Yusmeiro Petit pitch to right-center field and barely made it to second. He started hobbling badly a few steps before he even reached first base and pulled to a complete stop shortly after rounding the bag.

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"Same ankle," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Different spot. We talked about a high ankle sprain [suffered in Colorado]. This one, he sprained the side.

"This is a tough one."

Will Venable was sent in to pinch-run for Almonte and later scored the first run of an eventual 3-2 victory on a Joe Panik throwing error.

"He doesn't know how he did it," Black said. "Whether he was coming out of the box, whether it was on the previous pitch, whether he was running."

Almonte left the clubhouse before that question could be posed to him.

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

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Despaigne continues dominance of Giants

Cuban rookie cruises through seven; Padres pounce early

Despaigne continues dominance of Giants

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.

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"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 MLB.com. 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

Top Draft pick Turner takes in Petco Park

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?

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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 MLB.com. 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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Padres finalize player development contracts

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

Padres finalize player development contracts

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.

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"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 MLB.com. 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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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

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.

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"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 MLB.com. 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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MLB.com 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

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.

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"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 MLB.com 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.

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