Baxter making most of playing time

Baxter making most of playing time

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Outfielder Mike Baxter put himself on the map with a monster season at Triple-A Portland in 2010.

This spring, Baxter is attempting to forge his way into the Padres' packed outfield picture.

Baxter is hitting .357 this spring for the Padres after going 0-for-3 in a game on Tuesday against the A's in Phoenix.

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"I'm feeling good right now," Baxter said. "I'm staying slow at the plate and, like [hitting coach Randy Ready] has said, trying to stay in the middle of the field."

Baxter likely has a slim chance of cracking the Padres' 25-man Opening Day roster with Ryan Ludwick, Cameron Maybin and Will Venable as the starters. Chris Denorfia is set to be the fourth outfielder.

Eric Patterson, who appears to have a good chance to win a bench job, plays second base and the outfield, giving the Padres five players who can play the outfield.

Baxter, 26, isn't too concerned. He's been getting steady playing time in the outfield, and on Saturday, his sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Padres a 7-6 victory over the A's in Peoria.

"It's been great getting the reps," he said.

Last season, Baxter had a breakout season with Portland, hitting .301 with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and 58 extra-base hits. He earned a promotion in September, where he hit .125 in nine at-bats.