SAN DIEGO -- Padres outfielder Will Venable didn't start Thursday against the Dodgers, but he got into the game in the sixth inning when he walked and later stole second base.
For as much that was made during Spring Training about Venable's new approach at the plate and the work he's put in with hitting coaches Phil Plantier and Alonzo Powell, Venable's work on his baserunning has largely gone unnoticed.
"There's a lot of technique involved," said Venable, who worked closely this spring with first-base coach Dave Roberts and bench coach Rick Renteria on his technique. "It starts with getting a good lead, your stances, your first step, staying low and driving toward second base. It's something we continue to work on. Like anything, it needs constant maintenance."
Venable, who has stolen 63 bases in his first 376 Major League games, got a good jump Thursday with Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal on the mound. It didn't hurt that MacDougal is slow to the plate, as Venable had just about completed his popup slide into second base by the time the ball arrived.
A year ago, Venable stole 26 bases in 121 games. That came one season after he stole 29 in 2010 in 131 games. Venable said that he doesn't enter a season looking to steal a specific number of bases.
"When I think about stealing bases, it's not a certain number but a percentage," he said. "My goal is to take advantage of every opportunity to steal. Last year I was 26 of 29, but I would take that any day over stealing 30 bases and getting caught 10 times."
In 2010, he was successful on 80.6 percent of his steal attempts. Then last season that rate climbed to 89.7 percent.