PEORIA, Ariz. -- Dave Roberts, who is in camp this spring as a special assistant to work with baserunners, said recently just how nice it is to have so many athletes to work with. In case you're wondering, he's talking about 42-year-old Matt Stairs and 270-pound Kyle Blanks, two players who would much rather round the bases in a leisurely trot than a mad dash. In Roberts' eyes, Stairs and Blanks are treated no differently than anyone else as the team continues to push their aggressive baserunning initiative this spring.
It's anyone, anytime and anywhere with these Padres. No matter shape or size. "The only way I get a stolen base is because they forget about me and think I'm not going to run," Stairs said, joking. "But I don't mind running. They have said they want us to be aggressive on the bases. If you can get two or three runs stealing bases, it's going to help in the long run." Going into Sunday's game against the Rangers, the Padres had the most stolen bases (28) in the Major Leagues. The Minnesota Twins were second with 24. It's not just players with the speed skill set, Tony Gwynn and Everth Cabrera, who have been encouraged to run. It's everyone. Blanks has two stolen bases and two triples, the later the result of being aggressive on the bases and, in his case, not merely settling for a double. Stairs has a steal, too. He's one of 12 players who have stolen bases. "It's a matter of getting the fundamentals down so that it's not so much about your speed as it is your instincts," Padres right fielder Will Venable said. "We're working on the little things that can help us be a little quicker.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.