Notes: Offense not just bonus to Bowen

Notes: Offense not just bonus to Bowen

SAN FRANCISCO -- If catchers were given won-loss records like pitchers, Rob Bowen would be 3-0, with all of his starts -- and wins -- on the road.

With Josh Bard coming aboard, Doug Mirabelli having gone to Boston to much fanfare in exchange, it's not yet clear who's No. 2 on the Padres depth chart behind Mike Piazza. Manager Bruce Bochy suggests that will work itself out.

Bowen is wise enough not to get caught up in anything that could distract him. He's been spending his time wisely, studying quietly at his locker, figuring out how to be productive both behind the plate and next to it, with a bat in his hands, fine-tuning with hitting coach Dave Magadan.

Bowen caught Jake Peavy for the first time in Monday night's 10-4 thrashing of the Giants, and he helped the ace with his bat as well as his glove, delivering a pair of hits -- one driving home a run, another a double into the right-field corner, resulting in Khalil Greene getting thrown out at the plate.

A switch-hitter who played sparingly in Minnesota, Bowen, 25, was with Detroit for a week before the Padres claimed him off waivers as the season opened. He made successful starts in Atlanta and Colorado, and his two hits against the Giants left his average at .400. He has two doubles and three RBIs along with three walks, striking out three times in 15 at-bats, his daily work with Magadan paying dividends.

"I like putting a quality at-bat together," Bowen said. "When I was with Minnesota, I was mostly used for defensive purposes and wasn't able to hit enough to get comfortable. If you don't face enough guys, it's hard to keep an edge.

"This is by far the best I've felt up there. Working with Mags has really helped. I might strike out a lot, but I see a lot of pitches."

Catching Peavy, Bowen said, was comparable to working with Johan Santana and Joe Nathan in Minnesota.

"He's real aggressive and not scared," Bowen said. "Jake will throw anything in any count. It's hard to take him out of a ballgame; he wants to go all nine innings. He's a great pitcher, definitely in the upper echelon of pitchers."

Bowen also thought that reliever Alan Embree had great stuff in spite of giving up two runs in the ninth after loading the bases with nobody out. "His ball had a lot of life," Bowen said. "Sometimes, you give up a few heats on good stuff, and that's what happened with him. But he got out of it, like the pro that he is."

Bowen said he isn't concerned about how or when he's called upon, only in how he performs when the opportunity arises. "The only thing I can control is how I play on the field," he said. That 3-0 record, he could have added, is a nice recommendation.

Second look: Chris Young goes after the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, coming off a solid effort against Grady Little's troupe at PETCO Park in his most recent start.

Medication and treatment having brought feeling back to his thumb, resolving a blood-circulation issue, Young can focus on the pitcher-hitter head games that always dictate the ebb-and-flow of a game.

"It's a good veteran lineup," Young said of the Dodgers, who managed one earned run with five hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings against him. "I'm going to have to mix my pitches a little better to keep them off balance, maybe pitch some guys inside more than I did in that game."

Asked to assess his stuff, Young -- who struck out seven Dodgers and has 26 punchouts in 29 innings -- mentioned that he's happy with the breaking stuff that complements a fastball with exceptional late life. Sessions with pitching coach Darren Balsley are reaping nice results with a slider.

"My curveball's been very good," he said. "I'm starting to throw a little slider, too. I threw it in college [at Princeton], but haven't thrown it consistently in pro ball. It's something we're working on, another pitch to use from time to time.

"Deception is so important in pitching, and anything I can do to create a little more deception is a benefit."

The adjustment to the National League has gone smoothly for Young, given the incident with the thumb. Opposing hitters have been deceived enough to bat just .200 against the 6-foot-10 former basketball star, who is cheering hard for his hometown Mavericks in the NBA playoffs.

Milestones: Brian Giles, one double away from 300 and two homers shy of 250 coming into Tuesday's matinee against Matt Morris, said that he's approaching the kind of groove he experienced last May, when he hit .364 with four homers and 21 RBIs to spearhead a 22-6 month for the Padres.

"I'm close to really getting in a groove," Giles said. "It's such a hard game. You've got to grind it out every day. Hopefully, we can rattle some things off now."

Coming up: Young (2-2, 3.41 ERA) faces the Dodgers' Jae Seo (1-2, 5.70 ERA) on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium at 7:10 p.m. PT in the opener of a two-game series.

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