Do the math: Padres' 52 players all need numbers

Do the math: Padres' 52 players all need numbers

SAN DIEGO -- The fluidity of the Padres' 2012 roster has been well-documented. Thanks in large part to injury, San Diego has used 28 pitchers, a club-record-tying 15 of them starters, and has a bullpen that currently consists of seven rookies. The flux hasn't been limited to the pitching staff, as all told 52 players have suited up at some point this season, tops in the Majors by four players (Cubs).

And while that's obviously not a category anyone in the Padres' organization hoped the team would lead in, no one has felt the strain more than the San Diego clubhouse staff: Fifty-two players means 52 jerseys that must be adorned with 52 numbers that both keep players happy and appease clubhouse decorum.

The task of choosing who gets which number falls upon Brian Prilaman, the team's equipment manager, who, along with his assistants, Tony Petricca and Spencer Dallin, are responsible for the players' uniforms (among many, many other things).

While the everyday, sure-fire big leaguers are relatively easy to enumerate, others are a little more complicated. According to Dallin, the clubhouse staff polls those players during Spring Training, determining which number they would have if they were to get the call.

Monday night's starter, Casey Kelly, was one of those players, and identified No. 29 as his ideal choice if he were to be called up. But another youngster on the cusp, Brad Boxberger, had already requested it, and therefore "boxed" Kelly out to his current 49.

But the influx of new faces meant that Prilaman and his staff couldn't record predispositions from everybody, so some players, such as relievers Cory Burns (61) and Nick Vincent (50), were just assigned numbers based on what was available.

"For me, it didn't matter. Whatever number I wanted was probably going to be taken," Vincent said. "I thought I was going to be 64 because that's what I was in Spring Training, but I got here and saw 50 and was like, 'Oh, that's different.' Numbers are just numbers to me."

Dallin said the staff tries to accommodate requests as much as possible, but if a new veteran comes in and requests a number held by a rookie, seniority generally wins out. San Diego's had five numbers (1, 38, 39, 40, 41) worn by multiple players this season.

"In a season like this, we start running out of numbers," Dallin said. "That's why you see a guy like Kip Wells wearing No. 60 because it was what was available."

And while some veterans may be concerned for superstition purposes, the fact that most of the new faces have been new Major Leaguers means that they are less concerned with what their number is, and more with the fact that they have one at all.

"I don't care, I've got a big league number," Burns said. "As long as you've got a jersey, you're all right."