Correia ready for bounce-back season

Correia ready to bounce back

SAN DIEGO -- On Thursday, the Padres will turn to one of two reclamation projects in the starting rotation, Kevin Correia, in the final game of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park.

Correia and No. 5 starter Shawn Hill, who gets the start Friday against San Francisco, are new to the organization this season. Correia, a San Diego native, signed a Minor League deal in the offseason.

But Correia is anything but a far-flung shot in the dark. He has pitched at the Major League level before and pitched well for the Giants.

Correia has a career record of 14-22 and a 4.59 ERA in 170 career appearances the past six seasons. His best season was in 2007, when Correia went 4-7 with a 3.45 ERA in 59 games.

Last season, Correia was part of the Giants' rotation but suffered an oblique injury in a start on April 26. He went on the disabled list and didn't return until June 15. Correia struggled with his consistency the rest of the way, finishing 3-8 with a 6.05 ERA.

Correia signed a Minor League contract with the Padres in December. Now that he's made the team, Correia will make $750,000 and can earn another $350,000 in potential incentives.

Correia is hoping for something akin to a career revival pitching for the team he grew up watching. He could have signed a Minor League deal with several other teams but found the pull of opportunity greater in San Diego, where the Padres were looking for starters for the back end of their rotation going into Spring Training.

"It's a great opportunity for me," Correia said. "There's some open spots in the rotation and that's mainly what I was looking for in a situation coming into a new team, was to get the opportunity to compete for a stating job."

As a testament that Spring Training statistics don't mean much, Correia -- who was 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA in spring -- made a favorable impression on Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley with his ability to keep the ball down, work quickly and his commmand.

Better still, Correia said, was the rediscovery of his changeup, a pitch that betrayed him in 2008.

"My changeup is pretty good," Correia said. "In the past, it was one of my better pitches. Last year, I just kind of lost it. I've been really working on it this year. It nice to see that it's back to where it was already."

"It's not a pitch I try to do a lot with, I just try to take my grip and throw it. It feels pretty comfortable right now."

Pitching matchup
SD: RHP Kevin Correia (3-8, 6.05 ERA in 2008)
Correia is another guy who had a nice spring -- if you work past the ERA, which only tells part of the story. A non-roster invitee who had other offers, Correia chose his hometown team because the Padres had openings in their rotation. Smart move, as Correia pitched very well this spring on occasion, keeping the fastball at the knees while rediscovering his changeup, a pitch that betrayed him during 2008 season when he was ineffective at times and injured (oblique) at others. The Padres think Correia can have a nice bounce-back season as the No. 4 pitcher in the starting rotation.

LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-5, 4.26 ERA in 2008)
Kershaw showed this spring the ability to dominate Major League hitters, but he also showed the inconsistency of youth. When he gets out of whack mechanically, he still has a tough time making in-game adjustments. But he's left-handed with a 95-mph fastball and a curveball that drops four feet. He's starting to enjoy throwing the changeup, which is not what opposing hitters want to see.

Triple-A Portland will opens its season on Thursday in Fresno, Calif. Portland manager Randy Ready has announced his rotation for the opening week: Josh Geer, Josh Banks, Cesar Ramos, Wade LeBlanc and Matt Buschmann. ... Rookie Everth Cabrera got his first Major League start at shortstop on Wednesday. Manager Bud Black hinted that Edgar Gonzalez could get a start in the next few days, possibly at third base. ... Black is still trying to figure out who in his bullpen can throw on back-to-back dates. Black think closer Heath Bell can, as can Cla Meredith, Eulogio De La Cruz and Edwin Moreno. He's not sure Duaner Sanchez, Luke Gregerson and Ed Mujica can just yet. "I want to see how they hold their stuff over a two-, three-day period." Black said.

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On the Internet
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•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Friday: Padres (Shawn Hill, 0-0, -.--) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 0-0, -.--), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Padres (Jake Peavy, 0-1, 3.86) vs. Giants (Jonathan Sanchez, 0-0, -.--), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Padres (Chris Young, 1-0, 3.00) vs. Giants (TBD), 1:05 p.m. PT

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