PEORIA, Ariz. -- One of the Padres' few unanswered questions this spring got some fodder to pick over on Friday, as two prime candidates for the fifth starter spot had their first chance to pitch.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Matt Kemp had his first two hits of Spring Training on Friday, driving in a run, as the Padres won their first Cactus League game, 5-0, over the White Sox at Peoria Sports Complex.
White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon was dominant in his Cactus League debut, striking out four in two scoreless innings.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- James Shields, who on Saturday will fire his first pitch for the Padres, will see some very familiar faces across the way when he takes the mound at Scottsdale Stadium.
Shields will face the Giants and, specifically, will be pitted against San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner in a rematch of Games 1 and 5 of the World Series last fall.
A week or so ago, new Padres pitcher James Shields approached Andrew Cashner with a wide smile on his face and some exciting news.
Cashner, Shields insisted, had a doppelganger at the team's Spring Training facility - a Minor League pitcher named Jeffery Enloe.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Wil Myers got his first start in center field on Thursday, a sun-kissed afternoon in Peoria, which presented no problems and even fewer challenges for the new Padres' outfielder.
Myers went 1-for-3 with a walk, caught a fly ball in the second inning and nearly made a nice diving grab of a Mike Zunino soft liner into shallow right field in the fifth inning, as the ball skipped off the end of his glove after a long run and diving attempt. He played six innings in the field.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Let the record show that while statistics in Spring Training carry as much weight as a 10-day weather forecast, Ian Kennedy left the Padres' training facility late Thursday afternoon with a 9.00 ERA, thanks in large part to the long two-run home run he allowed to Seattle's Nelson Cruz.
Or was it a home run?
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Manager Bud Black said Thursday that while Joaquin Benoit is pegged to close games for the Padres, other relievers at the back end of the bullpen could get a handful of saves this season as well.
"You want to get your closer in games because that means you have a lead … and if he's closing games that means you are winning," Black explained. "That means at some point, we have got to put Joaquin down [because], he can't pitch every game. That's what I want."
When they were born four days apart in April 1987 in Havana, their fathers -- Luis Alonso and Francisco Despaigne -- were teammates for the Industriales of Cuba's premier Serie Nacional. In fact, the tie is even stronger, because Alonso's father caught Despaigne's father.
Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- New designated hitter Nelson Cruz homered in his first game for the Mariners and Robinson Cano got off to a hot start as well as Seattle defeated the Padres 9-4 on Thursday in a matchup for the second straight day at Peoria Stadium.
Alexi Amarista, who is pegged to be San Diego's starting shortstop, had three hits. His third hit preceded teammate Will Venable's two-run home run in the fifth inning. For Venable it was career home run No. 16 in Cactus League play.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Taijuan Walker looked strong in his spring debut with two scoreless innings for the Mariners, while Justin Upton opened his Padres career with a home run in Wednesday's Cactus League opener at a renovated Peoria Stadium.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres got the opportunity to unveil some of first-year general manager A.J. Preller's new acquisitions on Wednesday -- none more notable than outfielders Matt Kemp and Justin Upton.
And for the longest time, it was a quiet afternoon for both -- until Upton changed all that with one swing in the seventh inning.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Will Middlebrooks' first week in the big leagues went over so well that he probably could have butchered "Sweet Caroline," turned his nose up over New England clam chowder and still won over the hearts of Red Sox nation in spades.
In a blissful stretch in May of 2012, when Kevin Youkilis landed on the disabled list with a sore back, the then 23-year-old Middlebrooks, summoned from Triple-A, had nine hits in his first five games, including three home runs.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cameron Maybin got the first crack at hitting leadoff for the Padres on Wednesday in the first Cactus League game against the Mariners.
The leadoff spot -- as well as the No. 2 spot in the lineup -- will be areas that manager Bud Black and his coaching staff will watch closely during spring games.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The expectations have changed for manager Bud Black and the Padres.
No longer are the Padres the underdog.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nineteen professional seasons have yielded catcher Wil Nieves, who is trying to win the Padres' backup catching job, some extraordinary memories, few more notable than this:
Nieves, 37, has been a teammate of both Hall of Fame outfielder Tony Gwynn and Tony Gwynn Jr.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When pitcher Scott Elbert opted for free agency this past offseason, ending an 11-year run in the Dodgers' organization, the left-handed reliever was eager to start the next chapter in his pro career.
"I took it as a new beginning," Elbert said.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When Brandon Morrow was considering signing with the Padres this winter, he received assurance there were big changes on the way in San Diego. Sure enough, the Padres delivered.
"They told me they were going to aggressively improve the offense," Morrow said. "But they went way beyond the expectations of what I thought they could probably do. And then to do it without getting rid of the starting pitching that was already here -- that's big."
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Yangervis Solarte is a third baseman who also plays plenty of shortstop and second base. Clint Barmes spent parts of last season playing all four infield spots across the diamond. And Alexi Amarista has played at least five different positions in each of the past three years.
Sense a trend in San Diego? Just about every infielder expected to break camp on the Padres' roster can play multiple positions -- and play them competently. Even Jedd Gyorko, who is firmly entrenched at second for the Friars, came through the Minors as a highly touted third baseman.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Between meetings and pressed for time, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley scooped up a bowl of pasta just before the lunchroom closed at the team's training facility, a quick bite before he huddled again with the coaches.
Balsley has been busy devising a way to find innings for the 29 pitchers in big league camp during the upcoming Cactus League schedule, which begins in earnest on Wednesday against the Mariners.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Struggling as a starting pitcher last season took a toll on Brandon Maurer when he was with the Mariners, but it was the days between his starts that really ate away at him -- four days teeming with self-doubt, frustration and searching.
"It got to be a little overwhelming," Maurer said. "I'd have one bad start and then another and then I'm starting to think about what I need to change, what I need to switch-up. I would say those four days got to me a little bit."
PEORIA, Ariz. -- As a Minor League free agent, catcher Griff Erickson had any number of opportunities to pursue this past offseason when it came time to look for a new organization.
But there was only one perfect fit.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- After essentially breezing his way through the Padres' organization, three-plus seasons filled with dominant starts, pitcher Matt Wisler was told early last May that he was being promoted to Triple-A El Paso.
"I had heard it was a pretty good hitter's league, so I was expecting a pretty good challenge," he said.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- While many Padres hitters are spending the first few days of live batting practice tracking offerings from pitchers, second baseman Jedd Gyorko is trying something different.
He's getting his hacks in.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The fog of anesthesia was just beginning to clear that morning last February when Cory Luebke, resting inside of a recovery room after his second Tommy John surgery in 21 months, noticed there was a couple in the room with him.
The man happened to be Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, the Iron Man himself. Ripken was at the Pensacola, Fla., clinic of noted surgeon James Andrews with his wife, who had also had surgery.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Pity poor Glenn Hoffman, the Padres third-base coach who works with the infielders. His hands might be covered in calluses by time the team reaches the first game of spring on Wednesday, let alone Opening Day.
The Padres have 10 players in camp who are currently getting reps at first base during drills. While many don't figure into their 2015 plans, at least one could push his way into consideration with a strong showing this spring.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- First-year general manager A.J. Preller won't come out and say he's completely finished revamping the roster, mostly because one injury or one tempting call could change all that fast.
"We're always constantly evaluating that [roster]," Preller said.