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. -- 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. -- 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. -- 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. -- Cameron Maybin may be the forgotten man in the Padres' outfield, following a busy offseason. But there's a good chance he'll get the first at-bat of the spring for the club.
Manager Bud Black all but confirmed Maybin will start and hit leadoff when the Padres face the Mariners in their Cactus League opener on Wednesday. Black wouldn't make anything official because of his policy to let the player know first.
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 Padres have tabbed 38-year-old lefty Jason Lane to start Wednesday's charity game against the Mariners, the first exhibition game of the Cactus League schedule.
Manager Bud Black said on Saturday that Lane, a non-roster invitee in camp on a Minor League contract, will likely go two innings in a game that begins at 12:05 p.m. PT at the Peoria Sports Complex.
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.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- In a 12-month span, Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista played in 209 games -- 21 games in Spring Training, a career-high 148 regular season games with the Padres and then 40 games this winter, concluding this month in the Caribbean World Series.
Asked when he might have allowed himself some downtime this offseason, Amarista flashed a sheepish grin before relaying an answer to a translator, teammate Wil Nieves.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres figure to use the remaining five or so weeks of Spring Training to decide who will be their fifth starter in their rotation, a competition manager Bud Black has described as wide open.
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. -- Right-hander Josh Johnson said he was excited Thursday at the prospect of throwing a bullpen session in the near future, which would be a significant milestone for him in his return from Tommy John surgery last April.
Johnson, who is currently playing long toss three times a week from 180 feet, will increase his distance to 200-plus feet next week, and he will throw twice a week.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- As part of his tour of Major League camps this spring, Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark stopped at Padres' camp Thursday.
He saw a few familiar faces -- Clark played for the Padres and manager Bud Black for part of the 2008 season -- and answered questions from players, some about baseball's new pace-of-play rules.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Spotting a familiar face in the Padres' clubhouse early Wednesday morning, Matt Kemp presented a bright smile and a hand to shake, soon followed by a question.
"Who," he said, "do you think has the best outfield in the game now?"
Lyle Spencer has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2005. He has covered Major League Baseball as a reporter and columnist since 1971. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Austin Hedges is well aware that after two grim offensive seasons in the Texas League, his star has, apparently, dimmed in the eyes of some who compile prospect lists.
"I'm aware of almost all of those lists," Hedges said, sitting in front of his locker. "But the second that I start thinking about negative thoughts ... that won't get me any better today.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two days after narrowly missing out on the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes, Padres officials weren't kicking themselves over what might have been.
Instead, executive chairman Ron Fowler and team president and CEO Mike Dee were champing at the bit Wednesday over what might be.