PEORIA, Ariz. -- In order to get his offseason work done, Josh Bard retreated from the bitter cold of another Colorado winter to the confines of Coors Field, where the feeling was every bit as chilly to the Padres catcher. After all, Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, is where Bard and the rest of his teammates played their last game of the season, that wild 13-inning affair in the play-in game that determined the National League Wild Card. It seemed everywhere Bard looked, there were substantial reminders of that fateful game.
"If I have to look at one more celebration photo," Bard said, "... I'm going to throw up." Welcome to the start of Spring Training, where the Padres are moving ahead toward the start of the 2008 season and no longer dwelling on what occurred in the final days of the 2007 season. In that sense, Thursday was the perfect way to do so, as pitchers and catchers -- as well as a handful of position players -- trickled into the team's Spring Training facility in Peoria, though many more have been here for several days. Manager Bud Black said he was encouraged by the number of early arrivals in camp and that other than the two pitchers on the team coming back from surgery -- Mark Prior and Clay Hensley -- nearly everyone is expected to participate in Saturday's first workout. Even the manager is ready to move on from 2007. Black admitted Thursday to feeling more comfortable in his surroundings this spring than a year ago when everything -- including the drive to the Peoria facility -- was still so new to him. "Last year, everything was new, the ballpark, the players, the staff," said Black, who led the Padres to an 89-victory season. "Now, I'm coming in more in-tuned to Peoria and the organization." Black said there would only be a few small tweaks in the team's spring regimen, though he certainly can't say the same for the roster itself. There's a new second baseman (Tadahito Iguchi), center fielder (Jim Edmonds), a starter in the rotation, possibly two (Randy Wolf and Prior) as well as several new players to contend for spots on the bench as well as the bullpen. And, as there are every spring for every team, there are questions that need to be answered. Can Edmonds, the eight-time Gold Glove winner, stay healthy, play good defense in an unforgiving ballpark and make Padres fans forget about Mike Cameron, who is now in Milwaukee?
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.