Towers comfortable with offense
Padres general manager more interested in upgrading bullpen
TUCSON, Ariz. -- While San Diego general manager Kevin Towers continues to look for upgrades to his bullpen, he said he's much more comfortable with the state of the Padres' position players so far in Spring Training.
Even if the eight projected starters for Opening Day on April 6 have yet to play a single game together.
"It's tough for me to gauge what the offense is going to look like when [Brian] Giles has not played much, [Kevin Kouzmanoff has not] played much and Adrian [Gonzalez] is still at the WBC," Towers said. "They're three guys who will be in the middle of our order who haven't been out there."
That said, Towers is relatively satisfied with what he has seen from the position players who figure to make up 13 of the spots on the 25-man roster for Opening Day.
"For the most part, we're pretty comfortable with our everyday lineup ... and even our utility spots," Towers said. "I think we've got some good options with [Scott] Hairston, Cliff [Floyd] and in the infield between [Everth] Cabrera, Chris Burke, Travis Denker and Edgar [Gonzalez].
"I don't think we'll need to go outside the organization."
The Padres feel they have adequate depth in the outfield with Giles in right field, Jody Gerut in center and Chase Headley in left. Hairston, who is playing for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, could push for more playing time in center field.
Floyd doesn't figure to see much time in the outfield and will get the majority of his at-bats as a pinch-hitter. Will Venable, who is batting .300 this spring, has played well but is a long shot to make the team.
Towers expects the biggest competition to come in the middle infield, where four players are competing for two spots. The early favorites are Gonzalez and Cabrera, a Rule 5 pick in December who has five errors but a lot of upside and speed, something the Padres have had very little of.
Instead, Towers and his staff of professional scouts will continue to look at relief pitchers that might become available this month, players who are out of Minor League options -- more so than free agents or pitchers who could be obtained through trades.
"We need better quality if it's available," Towers said of his search for relievers. "We're actively looking. I'm a little more comfortable with our rotation, but our bullpen? I don't know. I think we really need to keep an eye on these guys and also look outside."
It's been decided that the Padres will face Team Korea on Wednesday in Peoria in a World Baseball Classic exhibition. Korea defeated Japan 1-0 on Monday to win Pool A. Both teams will advance to the second round, which will begin March 15 at PETCO Park in San Diego starting March 15.
San Diego closer Heath Bell allowed a run on two hits in one inning of work on Sunday as Team USA defeated Venezuela, 15-6, in Toronto. It was Bell's first outing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Catcher Eliezer Alfonzo had a three-run home run and drove in four runs while Kouzmanoff had three hits as the Padres topped Arizona. Alfonzo will begin the season at Triple-A Portland. Nick Hundley and Henry Blanco will break camp in April and be on the Opening Day roster with Hundley the starter.
Pitcher Cha Seung Baek allowed one run in three innings on Monday with two strikeouts. His goal was to throw more offspeed pitches for strikes early in the count, but his command wasn't where he wanted it, resulting in him being behind in a lot of counts. The projected No. 3 starter in the rotation has allowed four earned runs in six innings this spring.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.