Notes: Fierce battle for bench spots

Notes: Fierce battle for bench spots

PEORIA, Ariz. -- If manager Bud Black was hoping the first few Cactus League games would provide some clarity to the myriad of possibilities for the Padres' bench, he was dead wrong.

If anything, the bench situation is every bit as muddled as when camp started, although that's not entirely a bad situation as strong early performances by the bench candidates have made for good competition.

"I think they have all shown very well," Black said of the host of players who are vying for possibly three spots on the bench, aside from the backup catcher and first baseman Tony Clark. "I think they all realize the opportunities for positions on our team."

Callix Crabbe -- a Rule 5 Draft pick in December from the Brewers -- continues to show a live bat as well as the ability to play everywhere in the infield (except first base) as well as the outfield. Black said he'll see more time in the outfield moving forward.

Crabbe drove in a run Tuesday against the Giants with a line-drive single to center field with a runner on third and one out, a plus for any hitter. He's hitting .385 in 13 at-bats so far.

"The versatility is a big plus for him," Black said "There's a short little quick stroke. He puts the bat on the ball. He's got that line-drive, gap stroke from both sides of the plate that looks pretty good."

He's not the only one, as Edgar Gonzalez and Luis Rodriguez (both hitting .625 in eight at-bats) have played well early and play several positions.

In the outfield, Chase Headley (.600 in 10 at-bats) and Paul McAnulty (.375 in eight at-bats with two home runs) continue to push for spots on the roster, as have Chip Ambres (.500, eight at-bats) and Jody Gerut (.375, eight at-bats).

Feeling strong: There are typical aches and pains players work through during Spring Training but, to this point, pitcher Chris Young hasn't felt any.

Young's offseason workout routine included a focus on his core strength, taking care of his back and oblique, two problems areas for him last spring. Young even incorporated pilates into his workout regimen.

"The biggest difference is I haven't felt any soreness," he said. "My legs haven't been stiff, my back hasn't been stiff. I normally go through a phase where my legs get really sore, my hips get really sore and the back is stiff. ... Maybe the offseason program has something to do with that. Only time will tell."

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Young was excused from Tuesday's workout and game as he was with his wife, Liz, at a hospital in Scottsdale where at 10:25 a.m. she gave birth to the couple's first child, a girl named Catherine Elizabeth, who weighed eight pounds, seven ounces and measured 20 3/4 inches.

Padres on TV: The Padres announced their updated Spring Training television schedule on Tuesday. Channel 4 San Diego will broadcast six games, including the two games in Beijing against the Dodgers.

The televised games are March 9 against the White Sox (1:05 p.m. PT), March 10 against Texas (7:05 p.m.), March 14-15 against the Dodgers in Beijing (10:05 p.m.), March 25 against Kansas City (7:05 p.m.) and March 28 against the Angels (7:05 p.m.).

Friars notes: Reliever Cla Meredith, who was scheduled to pitch Tuesday, was scratched because he was sick. ... Rookie Kyle Blanks surprised his teammates with his '70s retro outfit Tuesday morning, complete with an afro that was all real. Blanks usually wears his hair in corn rows. ... Black said outfielder Brian Giles, who might be going a little stir crazy not being able to play in games, might be the team's designated hitter when the Padres travel to Tucson on March 16-18. ... Reliever Carlos Guevara, who strained his hamstring in the first week of drills, threw batting practice Tuesday and could make his Cactus League debut in a week. ... The Padres will play a "B" game Wednesday. The game, played on a back field in the Peoria Sports Complex, will give some Minor Leaguers some playing time they wouldn't normally get in Cactus League play. Lefty Wade LeBlanc, he of the nasty changeup, will start for the Padres. ... Veteran David Wells, a San Diego native, is here in camp -- not angling for a job but just as a visitor.

Up next: The Padres hit the road Wednesday for a Cactus League game against the Oakland A's at 12:05 p.m. PT at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Randy Wolf starts for the Padres and will throw two innings. Shawn Estes will follow with two innings. Then Justin Germano, who tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut, follows with three innings.

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