Facing Major League hitters for the first time since 2006, Estes allowed six earned runs on four hits with two walks and got just two outs in the first inning of his outing against the Royals, a game Kansas City won 13-9.
But looks are deceiving, as Estes could have easily escaped the first inning with no or little damage, as the Padres were unable to turn two potential double plays early in the inning.
After walking David DeJesus, Alberto Callaspo hit a hard ground ball to Tony Clark at first base. The ball handcuffed Clark and rolled into short right field for a single. Estes then got Alex Gordon to ground a ball to Clark, who stepped on first but threw high to second base, pulling Khalil Greene off the bag for what could have been a force out.
Estes would later allow a two-run double to Justin Huber and then a two-run home run to Ross Gload, as the Royals jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
"I felt for the first 15 to 20 pitches, I felt my stuff was pretty good," Estes said. "With the exception of the first guy of the game I walked [DeJesus], where my stuff was up a little bit.
"The last few hitters, I felt like my stuff wasn't as good. I left a few balls up that got hit. But I got my work in; unfortunately, it wasn't what I had in mind, but I got my 30 pitches in."
But Estes -- who spent part of 2007 pitching in the Minor Leagues on his way back from reconstructive elbow surgery -- didn't bemoan his outing too much, instead looking at it for what it was: a start.
"I wasn't as geeked up as I thought I'd be. I was actually pretty cool, calm and collected today," Estes said. "Maybe I needed some of that nervous energy. I felt good physically and felt good going into it mentally."
San Diego manager Bud Black liked the life on Estes' fastball, though he "elevated too many fastballs."
About the outfield: The Padres have a number of outfielders competing for the starting left-field spot and reserve spots on the bench, with players on the 40-man roster and several non-roster invitees here trying to make a good impression.
The Padres haven't ruled out adding an outfielder from outside the organization, likely through a trade, but general manager Kevin Towers won't consider such a move until getting a chance to see what the current lot of outfielders can do during Cactus League play.
The Padres have been linked to any number of outfielders -- Matt Murton (Cubs), Jason Bay (Pirates) and, most recently, Gabe Gross of the Brewers.
Towers is still leery of trading any of the team's top Minor League talent, though San Diego does have an abundance of relief pitchers a team might be interested in.
More on China: Slowly, the roster for the Padres trip to China is starting to take shape. On Friday, Black divulged several more names of players who, in his words, are "tentatively scheduled" to make the trip to Beijing March 11-16.
In addition to Kevin Kouzmanoff, Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell, Scott Hairston and Adrian Gonzalez, it appears as if infielder Oscar Robles, pitcher Joe Thatcher as well as several other Minor League players -- Nick Hundley, Cesar Ramos, Josh Geer, Drew Macias, Will Venable, Kyle Blanks, Vince Sinisi, Mike Baxter, Jose Lobaton and Jared Wells -- will make the trip.
Friar notes: Looking ahead, Jake Peavy will start on Sunday against Seattle. Chris Young gets a start Monday against the Brewers in Maryvale. Greg Maddux is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Giants in Peoria. ... Black said on Friday that relievers Justin Hampson (sore left shoulder) and Kevin Cameron (sore hamstring) continue to progress. Black doesn't think either pitcher will miss much mound time. ... Regular season tickets for the 2008 season go on sale Saturday through padres.com, padresbeisbol.com, by phone at 1-877-FRIARTIX and at the PETCO Park box office.
Up next: Randy Wolf, who missed the second half of the season in 2007 after having minor shoulder surgery, will start Saturday's game against the Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex at 12:05 p.m. PT. Wolf, who played with the Dodgers last season, signed a one-year deal with the Padres in the offseason for $4 million.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.