Quackenbush gets taste of big league closer's role

Quackenbush gets taste of big league closer's role

MINNEAPOLIS -- For all the success Padres rookie reliever Kevin Quackenbush had closing games in the Minor Leagues, he's been reminded a handful of times this season that getting outs late in games here in the big leagues can be a far more difficult endeavor.

"I try not to think too much about it, because up here, the stage is bigger … there's a lot more fans, we play in bigger ballparks," Quackenbush said Tuesday. "It's a slippery slope because if you put too much pressure on yourself, it becomes harder to do your job."

So far, with the exception of a few bumps, Quackenbush's rookie season is going well, so much so that he's earned the trust of manager Bud Black to get a handful of high-leverage spots out of the bullpen.

Going into Tuesday's game against the Twins at Target Field, Quackenbush is 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 36 games this season with 31 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings while allowing 22 hits.

"I feel like I've done all right," Quackenbush said. "There have been some really good outings and some shaky ones. It's part of baseball. I think I've done OK so far."

Quackenbush has been getting more high-leverage innings since the team traded All-Star closer Huston Street to the Angels on July 18. That's when eighth-inning specialist Joaquin Benoit became the closer.

Quackenbush is getting a lot because of his stuff and because of his Minor League pedigree -- a 1.16 ERA and 68 saves over four seasons.

"He has the weapons to pitch late in the game," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Now it's a matter of getting him experience and [learning] how to work his way through a Major League inning. That takes time. There's going to be a time where he's not a secret anymore.

"But I like this guy's head and determination. He doesn't scare off. His intent is to get the hitter out. And I like the fact that he's the aggressor."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.