Notes: McAnulty shapes up

Notes: McAnulty shapes up, hoping for spot

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was a busy winter for Paul McAnulty, the Padres' sweet-swinging outfielder/first baseman.

He moved into a house he bought in nearby Surprise, Ariz., and acquired a new and improved body. He's not exactly a Big Mac in the conventional form of a Mark McGwire or Willie McCovey, but he's not Little Mac, either.

The body work began soon after the 2005 season, McAnulty having made his Major League debut in cameo roles for the National League West champions.

The 220 pounds on McAnulty's 5-foot-10 frame are more firmly distributed, owing to his commitment to a serious two-month weight training program that began with a steady buildup to heavy lifting followed by a gradual winding down back to lower weights for flexibility.

"I definitely feel stronger, faster with the bat," said the good-natured McAnulty, from Oxnard and Long Beach State. "I'm hoping it pays off, but it's a little early. I'm just trying to get a feel for my swing and hitting the ball."

McAnulty batted .208 with five hits in spot duty with the Padres after hitting .344 at Triple-A Portland and .282 at Double-A Mobile with 16 combined homers and 67 RBIs. He's a .304 career hitter in 450 Minor League games, his stroke calling to mind John Kruk.

McAnulty hopes to win a roster spot with his Cactus League play. He learned a great deal last season absorbing knowledge from supersubs Mark Sweeney and Robert Fick. Sweeney is now with the Giants, Fick with the Nationals.

"I developed a great appreciation for pinch-hitting by watching Sweeney and Fick," McAnulty. "I'd never done it before, and it was tough. You've got to learn how to do something. I was used to getting 20 at-bats in five days, and now I was getting one.

"They threw me into that role, and this was a great place to start. It's a progression; the more I do something, the more in tune I get with it. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it, no questions asked.

"Sweeney and Fick were great teammates. They helped me out in more ways than they probably realized -- not only on the field but in the clubhouse. Those guys were a big part of the 'Red Alert' [reserve squad]. I'd love to carry it on here."

"Doc" right on schedule: Dave Roberts, "Doc" to teammates, said he's fully recovered from a variety of ailments that dogged him in 2005 and that he's determined to stay that way and deliver a productive season in left field, moving over from center to accommodate Mike Cameron.

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"I'm staying under the radar," Roberts said, grinning. "I just want to stay healthy and contribute to the ballclub. I'm an optimist; I'll miss the guys we lost, but I like what we have here."

Roberts said he felt he played capably in center field in spacious PETCO Park when his body allowed. He's talked with Cameron and sees no problem going into the gap in left-center given Cameron's habit of taking a deeper route on fly balls.

In 115 games, Roberts batted .275 with a .356 on-base percentage and 37 extra-base hits, including a club-high 10 triples and career-high eight homers. He and Eric Young are the club's most experienced leadoff men and could platoon in left, with Ben Johnson also a possible platoon partner for Roberts.

Estes on target: Shawn Estes was throwing freely and easily, popping the catcher's glove with lively fastballs, during batting practice Saturday.

"I don't like to feel too strong too soon, but I did feel good out there," Estes said, showing no ill effects from the left foot injury that limited the veteran left-hander to 21 starts and a 7-8 record for Arizona last season.

Estes gave up one long ball, to Walter Young, who continues to launch them with a controlled stroke.

"He's a big man who likes to get his arms extended," Estes said of the 6-foot-5, 322-pound first baseman.

B-Law news registers "shock": Manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Kevin Towers expressed the same reaction when informed that their former starter, Brian Lawrence, had a split in his labrum and possibly would be out for the season in Washington, D.C.

"I'm shocked," Bochy said. "He's never had any arm trouble. He made every start. I don't even remember any soreness anywhere."

Added Towers: "I'm kind of shocked. This guy probably spent as little time on the disabled list as anybody we had. He logged 200 innings -- I thought that was his strength -- and made [at least] 30 starts a year for us.

"I think of the two guys traded [Lawrence for Vinny Castilla], we were more at risk with Castilla than they were with Lawrence. Castilla had those knee problems at the end of the year."

Lawrence averaged 32.8 starts and 204.8 innings in his four full seasons in the Padres' rotation. He was on the DL twice in five seasons.

Hit-and-run: Khalil Greene, the only unsigned player in camp, reportedly is in discussions for a deal worth about $400,000. The shortstop is eligible for arbitration after this season. ... Bochy said Andy Ashby, attempting a comeback after missing almost all of the past two seasons, threw "very well, with good velocity" in his most recent outing and felt fine the next day. ... At a Fanfest in the main stadium, Jake Peavy, Woody Williams, Chris Young and Tim Stauffer threw live batting practice and all but Peavy, Bochy said, suffered with their command. "The balls were a little slick," Bochy said. ... The club is conducting tryouts at the complex, hoping to uncover another Craig Breslow, signed for $1 last year.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.