Notes: Giles busy rehabbing knee

Notes: Giles on the mend

SAN DIEGO -- So much for a quiet offseason, as outfielder Brian Giles is spending nearly as much time at PETCO Park these days as he does during the season.

Giles, who had microfracture surgery on his right knee two days after the season ended, has been a familiar face at PETCO Park as he continues to rehabilitate the knee that was nearly in constant pain throughout the 2007 season.

Once the surgery started, doctors concluded the damage was worse than they originally thought.

"It was more significant than we thought when they got in there with the scope," Giles said. "But it feels like it's progressing more and more every week. They have a progression sheet for how we're going about it. I feel like I'm a little ahead of pace."

Giles said he believes that he first suffered damage to the knee on April 17, when he ran into a metal door at Wrigley Field as he chased down a fly ball.

Giles would eventually go on the disabled list on May 26 before returning on June 29.

Giles, who will turn 37 on Jan. 20, flourished after his return, which essentially coincided with manager Bud Black's decision to move him to the leadoff spot. Giles responded by hitting .319 in July with a .429 on-base percentage.

Giles said he thinks he'll be ready for Opening Day, though his sole focus now is continuing to strengthen his knee with a variety of activities, including a bike.

After the first of the year, Giles will be able to do exercises that involve bending the knee. It's all part of the plan to get him back on the field as soon as possible, but by taking all the steps necessary to make sure he's doing the right things.

"It's frustrating at times," he said. "But you have to take your time."

Playing deep: The Padres will bring Scott Hairston and Chase Headley to PETCO Park in January to work on fly balls -- Headley in left field and Hairston in center field, which is where he could spell newcomer Jim Edmonds on occasion.

As it stands now, Hairston is the Padres' starting left fielder, though the team will take a look at Headley, the top prospect in the organization.

Headley, a third baseman, could make the 25-man roster if he proves proficient in the outfield, especially since the team has deemed his bat Major League ready.

Rookie second baseman Matt Antonelli will likely be at PETCO Park as well to work on taking ground balls and possibly a few fly balls in center field.

The Padres think that Antonelli is a gifted-enough athlete to handle such a move if they deem it necessary in the future, given that they just moved him last spring from third base to second base.

Antonelli will likely begin the season at Triple-A Portland after the signing earlier this week of free-agent second baseman Tadahito Iguchi.

Eyes on Prior? A report on ESPN.com said the Padres are the front-runners to sign free-agent pitcher Mark Prior.

The report said that the Padres have "offered a modest base salary plus a performance bonus package" to land the right-hander and that nothing was imminent as Prior weighs options from other teams.

Prior's agent, John Boggs, wasn't available to comment on Friday. But Boggs told the Houston Chronicle that the Padres "probably have the inside track just because he's from San Diego; he does his rehab here," he said.

The Padres are still looking for a fifth starter, though they have several internal options. But Prior could be attractive since it would be a one-year deal and wouldn't likely break the bank.

Prior missed last season and is recovering from right shoulder surgery, though his rehabilitation has him already throwing off flat ground from 105 feet.

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