MLB.com: During Spring Training, you were out there every day. I saw you walking around, talking to guys. What were you looking for and what are you asking them? What were some of the things you really honed in on?
Scanlan: Early on, I wanted to find out what guys were working on as they were coming into Spring Training, because every guy has a different agenda. A lot of it had to do with what they felt were their strengths and weaknesses coming out of last season. So it's interesting to talk to guys and get their evaluation of what they felt they did well, what they had to work on and how they apply that to what they needed to work on this season.
MLB.com: As a former pitcher, what was your take on Spring Training as a player? We always hear that Spring Training is functioned largely for pitchers. Maybe six weeks is too long. What was your view of it then compared to now?
Scanlan: It's a little different now, because sometimes you're coming into camp trying to make a team. For me, for the most part, I was always trying to make a team. So I came in each spring ready to pitch. That's not always the case now; a lot of guys are preparing for the start of the season. It's fun to see the ebbs and flows of Spring Training. It's a fun process to watch.
MLB.com: I'm not sure I've seen this much heightened optimism in my seven previous seasons of covering the team. Do you sense that buzz and do you think it's legitimate?
Scanlan: If you don't have that optimism, then something is wrong. In Spring Training, you have to have that excitement. It's a different level of intensity. I've seen it in the players, but also the coaching staff and what they've demanded from the guys. I get the sense there's a different expectation level of what this team is capable of. There's a core of players returning, so there's not a bunch of questions. Things seem more set. I think there is a lot of excitement.
MLB.com: I don't think manager Bud Black has had this many "good" pitchers in the rotation. How do you qualify good? Guys who have been successful, who can throw in upwards of 200 innings and guys who can miss a lot of bats. What do you like about the rotation?
Scanlan: You've got guys who have swing-and-miss stuff. A guy like Tyson Ross who had the most swings and misses of anyone in the National League in the second half. You've got Andrew Cashner, who has an overpowering fastball and is getting better with his secondary pitches. Ian Kennedy, who won 21 games a few years ago. We've seen flashes of that. You have a group of guys who have done it before, and here's what we expect from them. If you get quality starting pitching, it adds confidence to your entire lineup. It's a great way to start the season.
MLB.com: If there's one new guy you can point to specifically that you'll be watching this season, who would that be?
Scanlan: Everyone sort of believes that Josh Johnson is the big guy to watch. It all starts with starting pitching, and that guy sets the tone. You look at Josh Johnson from a few years ago and he was sort of an under-the-radar guy pitching for the Marlins, a Cy Young [Award] candidate for two seasons in a row. He adds extra depth to the rotation. A lot of people want to talk about who your Nos. 1 and 2 starters are. But a lot of times, you win or lose a season with your Nos. 3, 4 and 5 guys. So all of a sudden, you're adding depth to the rotation and taking pressure off the bullpen. I think [Johnson's] a guy who can be a real difference maker.
MLB.com: You get the pleasure of working with Ted Leitner in the booth every day. For my money, Ted is a broadcasting legend. What do you enjoy most about working with Ted?
Scanlan: It's his knowledge of Padres history, but also that he knows about so many different things in life and the world and he isn't afraid to talk about them. Both his experiences as a kid growing up in New York, his experiences working with Jerry Coleman, his experiences doing basketball -- he had his own talk show for so many years. I always know it's not only going to be a fun baseball broadcast with him, but I'm going to learn something about, say, Ray Charles, New Jersey, Padres history or I'm going to hear another great story about Jerry Coleman. Every day, I feel like I'm going to get a gem from Ted.