We're deep enough into Spring Training where we really shouldn't be getting any more Tony Gwynn Jr. or Barry Bonds questions. C'mon now, that will just mean more wind sprints for everyone! Anyway, here's yet another entry of the Padres' mailbag. Enjoy.
Going into the season, Greg Maddux will be 42. How many more seasons do you see him pitching? If he wins 20 more games this season, he will be fifth on the all-time list. -- Neil K., Granite Bay, Calif.
I can just as easily see Maddux retiring after this season as much as I can see him going at it again in 2009. I think at his age, he's year-to-year, though that's more a function of how he feels about continuing to play than it does him slipping or losing his stuff by any means. Maddux takes great care of his body and is so well-prepared. I remember that he said at the end of last season that 2007 was the most fun he'd had in baseball. I know this, he won't hang around just to achieve a milestone and I don't think he'll have to be shown the door by a team. He'll know when enough is enough.
What is the timetable for outfielder Will Venable to make the team? He tore up the Cactus League last year and homered in the first spring game against the Royals. Considering the age of the Padres outfield, it seems like his time could come sooner rather than later. -- Jason D., Los Angeles
I don't think Venable tore up the Cactus League a year ago, though he did gain some valuable experience playing in some games here in Peoria, Ariz. I know that people in the organization are excited about Venable and his power potential with his left-handed stroke and his ability to play center field. I can see him starting the year at Triple-A Portland. There's no reason to think that Venable couldn't challenge for the starting position in center field in 2009.
Does it trouble you that we may have two starting outfielders age 37 or older on Opening Day? -- Richard M., Las Vegas, Nev.
I suppose it would if there was an expectation that the two players you speak of -- center fielder Jim Edmonds and right fielder Brian Giles -- were in the team's long-range plans beyond this season. They're likely not, as Giles will be a free agent after the season and Edmonds, acquired in a trade in December, might be around a year or two. The Padres won't ask Edmonds to play 150-plus games. They'll give him a breather out there with, likely, Scott Hairston. They probably will try and give Giles some rest as well, though he'll likely decline.
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What are Robert Fick's chances of making the club? I love how he plays, his versatility and the character he brings to the team. -- Brian C., San Marcos, Calif.
I think Fick faces an uphill climb to gain a roster spot, as the Padres are pretty well set at catcher with Josh Bard and Michael Barrett. Most teams don't carry a third catcher and I don't see how the Padres could when you look at having to carry a reserve outfielder and an extra infielder (or two) along with Tony Clark.
Has Trevor Hoffman ever considered adding a third pitch to his repertoire? Hoffman's success is attributed to his fastball and changeup, but wouldn't it be fair to say he could be even more effective with a third pitch, especially now at his age? -- Stephan Q., San Diego
There's a time and place for adding a new pitch -- it's called your 20s. And Hoffman is well past that point in his career. He's still very effective with his fastball and, of course, that nasty changeup. On the surface, the prospect of adding another pitch is intriguing. But the practical application isn't easy by any means. Being a fastball and changeup guy will get Hoffman in the Hall of Fame. Why change now? His struggles last season were about command of those pitches, not because he didn't have a third pitch to offer.
Last year, Chris Young started out very hot, in fact he was better than Jake Peavy in the first half. But once he got hurt, he never recovered. What is Young doing this spring that will help him last the entire year? -- Daniel G., Dublin, Ohio
I had a story about a week ago about how Young's offseason regimen of Pilates and other exercises to strengthen his core were already paying dividends, so far. Young is encouraged by the work he's done and hasn't experienced the general soreness from early workouts this spring. He's hopeful the oblique and back problems that he had last season won't plague him this season.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.