"I've never done that before, so it was kind of a different thing for me," Geer explained. "I've never really come out of the 'pen not knowing I was going to throw. It was different. I had to start firing up, getting ready early. I wasn't expecting to go in so soon. But it was all right. My arm felt fine. I just wasn't where I wanted to be. I left a couple balls up that day."
Geer prides himself on his consistency, so to step out of his comfort level was a significant step in a series of steps that began August 30 when he pitched five innings of two-run ball against the Rockies to win his debut. He continued on a strong call up, going 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts overall in 2008.
"It went better than I thought it would," Geer said of his stint in San Diego last season. "I felt good, I felt real comfortable, just trying to show them how I could pitch at this level, and hopefully this year I could stay up and be in the normal rotation. You can always do better. But luckily I kept us in the game each game.
Though the Padres were 17 games out of first when Geer joined them at the end of August, and the games may not have had much consequence from a team perspective, his big league experience has paid big dividends as he tries to settle in for the long haul in 2009.
"It's relaxed me," Geer said of his experience closing out the season as a part of the rotation. "Being with the guys, being up here at this level, knowing what to expect and see how everything's run up here. I'm way more relaxed this year than I was when I first came up last year."
Though his mind may be in a different place than last year, his approach on the mound remains consistent, much to the pleasure of his manager.
"He looks pretty much the same [as last year]," said manager Bud Black. "I think that's probably one of his strengths is that he realizes what he is as a pitcher. He probably learned that early on in his baseball career, probably even prior to professional ball. I'm sure he's pitching the same way he did at Rice and the same way he did in high school, which is fastball that he commands with movement, change of speeds on a slider. He has very good instincts to pitch."
The report from the Minor League staff is that Geer has traditionally been slow to get started in the spring, which could explain a rough Cactus League season for the 25-year-old rookie. Black likes what he's seen, however, and is confident that Geer is ready to get his game in gear and make the most of the opportunity to contribute to the Padres' starting staff.
"You look at his Minor League track record, and he's a winning pitcher [43-24] with a high winning percentage," Black said. "He's a guy that's going to throw strikes and he's going to change speeds, and more often than not, he's going to make the other team beat him. He doesn't beat himself. He fields his position, he holds runners, he does a lot of good things that enable him to keep himself in games and win games."
SD: RHP Josh Geer (0-0, 4.91 ERA)
Geer allowed five runs in four innings on Saturday when he had to fill in for an injured Hill, who left after two innings with soreness in his right biceps and elbow. Geer, who would normally have thrown 50 pitches on his regular "throw day," instead was left to soak up innings so the Padres could protect their bullpen. Geer wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in his first start of the season, on April 19 against the Phillies, when he allowed one earned run in seven innings. He elevated several pitches against the Pirates, something he won't be able to afford when he faces the Dodgers.
LAD: RHP James McDonald (1-1, 7.11 ERA)
In Colorado on Saturday, McDonald almost put in a duplicate of his start in Arizona two weeks earlier with two scoreless innings, but then endured a third-inning rally that included a walk to the opposing pitcher. He stayed in long enough to allow five runs in five innings, good enough for his first victory.
Adrian Gonzalez had his seventh career two-homer game Wednesday. His last came September 11, 2008, against the Giants. His seventh-inning homer extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He is one homer shy of 100 with the Padres. ... Luis Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to six games and raised his average to .267 with a single in the fourth inning, the Padres' first hit. ... David Eckstein went 1-for-1 with a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning. He is 4-for-9 on the road trip so far, with two doubles, three runs and two walks. Eckstein entered the game hitting .405 on the road, third best in the National League behind Carlos Beltran (.459) and Ryan Braun (.426).
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4 San Diego
XPRS 1090, XEMO 860 (Español)
Friday: Padres (Jake Peavy, 2-3, 5.74) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 0-2, 7.29), 7:10 p.m. PT
Saturday: Padres (Chris Young, 2-1, 5.74) at Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 1-1, 4.31), 7:10 p.m. PT
Sunday: Padres (Chad Gaudin, 0-0, 0.00) at Dodgers (TBD), 1:10 p.m. PT