PEORIA, Ariz. -- The process of whittling down the number of bodies in camp started on Saturday as the Padres optioned two players to Double-A San Antonio and sent five more to their Minor League camp.

The Padres optioned right-handed pitchers Ernesto Frieri and Wilton Lopez to Double-A San Antonio and assigned right-handed pitchers Mat Latos, Gabe DeHoyos, Will Inman, Oneli Perez and left-hander Nick Schmidt to their Minor League camp.

"It's just thinning out the room," said Padres manager Bud Black, who presided over 34 healthy pitchers at the start of Spring Training last month. "We are getting the working group of pitchers pared down. We were running out of innings for those guys."

The Padres currently have 26 healthy pitchers left in camp, though two -- Heath Bell and Jake Peavy -- are competing in the World Baseball Classic. Also, Mark Prior isn't ready to pitch in games yet.

Latos, 22, is considered the prized arm of the Minor League system. He appeared in two Cactus League games, allowing four earned runs -- including three home runs -- on six hits in two innings.

"I think the thing I was most pleased with was he was early, he was on time and he took being in his first big league camp very seriously," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "He realized it was a tremendous opportunity to learn from guys like Chris Young, Greg Maddux, Jake Peavy ... being around those guys."

Towers thinks this experience, despite the results, was a positive for Latos, who will open the regular season in the starting rotation for Class A Lake Elsinore, the higher of the Padres' two Class A teams.

"Stuff-wise, he's as good as anyone in our camp. I think he learned in the couple outings that he had that he has to locate better, change speeds, maybe use better sequences with his pitches," Towers said. "But he carried himself very well. He did the things that you like to see from a young player."