Notes: Righty Cameron still in camp

Notes: Righty Cameron still in camp

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's March 27 and Kevin Cameron is still sitting in front of his locker.

For this, the 27-year-old right-handed reliever is thankful. After all, he's still here and is still in contention for a spot on the Padres' Opening Day roster.

"That makes me feel good," Cameron said. "I've heard them say a few nice things about me being in the mix. I hope to stay in the mix until that last day, because this is where I want to be."

Chances are, Cameron likely will get his wish.

With Opening Day just over a week away, it looks as if the Padres will keep Cameron, and not just because he's a Rule 5 pickup who must remain with the team for the entire season or be offered back to the Twins for $25,000.

It looks like Cameron will make the team on his own merits. He has been dominant at times this spring and has struck out 13 hitters in 11 1/3 innings in 10 games. He has a 4.76 ERA, though five of the six runs he's allowed came in two games.

"We like his arm. We like the stuff," said San Diego manager Bud Black, who is finding himself saying the same glowing things about Cameron nearly every day. "He turns the ball loose with good stuff. It's been a pleasant surprise."

Black gave a nod this week to the scouts who found Cameron, though the Padres' front office gets some credit for selecting him from the Twins in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft in December.

There's no chance of trying to sneak Cameron through waivers, as the Twins would most certainly like to have him back. Still, Cameron hasn't made the team just yet, though it's certainly been weighing on his mind.

"It's hard not to think about it," said Cameron, who will likely throw again on Thursday. "There's that pressure you put on yourself, like if I screw up this outing is that going to be it for me? It's not always on your mind, but it's a lingering thought."

He's been pleased with his performance this spring. The velocity on his fastball is back up in the mid-90s after shoulder surgery five years ago. His slider and cut fastball have been nearly unhittable at times this spring.

"I would have liked to have pitched better in a couple of situations," Cameron said. "But when that happens, you just try to shake it off. When it's over, it's over. You can't get too down about the outing. You have to look ahead because there's plenty of more outings to come."

And from the looks of it, those outings could come with the Padres this season.

Still no Mac: There still isn't any definitive word on outfielder Paul McAnulty's right knee, as the results of the MRI he had Monday were sent to the team doctor in San Diego instead of being read in Peoria.

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With Todd Walker being jettisoned on Tuesday -- the team requested his unconditional release -- McAnulty and middle infielder Oscar Robles are the main in-house candidates for the last spot on the bench.

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers is also perusing the waiver wire and possibly looking into potential trades to beef up his bench during the final week of camp.

But Towers indicated on Monday that the team likes McAnulty's left-handed bat and that his ailing knee -- McAnulty hasn't played since March 18 when he tweaked the knee -- will not work against him when it comes time to make a decision.

Black did say Tuesday that he thought the decision on the last spots on the bench would be made before the team broke camp after Saturday's game at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks.

Swan song for Maddux: In his final Spring Training game, starting pitcher Greg Maddux weathered strong winds at Surprise Stadium over six innings, allowing just two runs on a day when Rangers' pitchers had issues preventing runs from scoring.

"It was tough ... it was a four-club day," avid golfer Maddux said, referring to the wind. "I felt bad for the outfielders. It's not like you practice catching balls in 40-mile-per-hour winds."

Maddux, who will throw on the side in Sunday's workout at PETCO Park before making his regular-season debut in the home opener April 6, finished the spring with a 2.25 ERA.

"It's been a good spring," Maddux said. "I loved it. I had a lot of fun. I feel like I'm ready for the season. I'm looking forward to this year."

Maddux struck out five and walked one batter on Tuesday.

Pads and ends: The Padres continued to whittle their roster down on Tuesday, getting ever closer to the 25 players they'll break camp with. On Tuesday, San Diego parted ways with right-handed reliever Scott Strickland, who had a 3.38 ERA over 10 appearances this spring. The Padres will officially request unconditional waivers on the 30-year-old on Wednesday. The move wasn't surprising, as Strickland didn't factor in the team's plans. There are now 34 players in camp, 30 that are on the 40-man roster ... The Padres got a 450-foot home run from Russell Branyan in Tuesday's 24-7 victory over the Rangers in Surprise. Branyan's home run, his third this season, carried over the fence in center field and cleared the grass burm in the outfield as well. Branyan came into the game with seven hits. He had four hits, two home runs and five RBIs. Terrmel Sledge and Adrian Gonzalez each had three hits.

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