Padres trim roster, narrow battle for rotation spots

Padres trim roster, narrow battle for rotation spots

PEORIA, Ariz. -- With two weeks until Opening Day, the Padres' once-cluttered rotation race finally looks clear following a series of roster moves: Three pitchers are competing for two spots.

The Friars released Paul Clemens on Monday, when it became evident the out-of-options righty would not make the roster. Long-shot candidates Zach Lee and Tyrell Jenkins were optioned to the Minors as well.

That would seemingly leave Trevor Cahill, Luis Perdomo and Jarred Cosart fighting for two rotation places. If Christian Friedrich (general arm soreness) returns to full health, his name could be added to that mix, too.

"Releasing Paul Clemens is tough for us, because I think everybody in the organization loves Paul," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It came down to, as you count to 25, he was going to be on the outside looking in."

Green on roster cuts, Friedrich

Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver have already secured their places in the Padres' rotation. Cahill has a roster spot locked up, though it's unclear whether that would be in the rotation or the bullpen. Like Clemens, Cosart and Friedrich are out of options, giving the Padres little room to maneuver.

The Padres claimed Clemens off waivers from Miami last June, and he was solid down the stretch. The right-hander posted a 3.67 ERA in 16 appearances for San Diego.

But Clemens struggled mightily in 12 Cactus League innings, allowing 10 earned runs on 15 hits and seven walks.

"We gave him a good run here in a Padre uniform and gave him an opportunity to show who he is," Green said. "... He was just going to be on the outside looking in. You hate to see him go. He's loved by his teammates, and he's a lot of fun."

In other roster trimming, the Padres optioned infielder Carlos Asuaje to the Minors. They also reassigned Logan Bawcom, Rocky Gale, Stephen McGee, Rafael Ortega, Andre Rienzo and Christian Villanueva to Minor League camp.

With two weeks until Opening Day, none of those moves qualified as a surprise, though Asuaje entered with an outside shot at the roster.

"Offensively, there's a lot to like," Green said of Asuaje, the Padres' No. 11 prospect. "He's got room to grow on the baserunning side and the defensive side, and he's still got room for growth on the way he drives the ball to the opposite field.

"That's splitting hairs on a guy we really, really like. But when you send a guy down, you don't want to just say, 'Hey, you're doing everything great, you just have to wait your time.' They've got to get better."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.