Moreno close to Padres roster spot
Reliever's impressive spring has him 'deep in the mix,' says Black
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres' unsettled bullpen picture remains just that, though manager Bud Black may have found a reliable arm to add to a short list of pitchers who have more or less earned spots on the 25-man Opening Day roster.
Edwin Moreno, a 28-year-old right-hander, might well have earned a spot on the Padres' roster by allowing one run in 11 innings this spring with eight strikeouts and one walk in 10 appearances.
"He's deep in the mix," Black said Saturday. "Read into that what you want."
Moreno was again impressive Friday in a 5-2 victory over the A's, striking out two in pitching one scoreless inning.
A non-roster invitee this spring, Moreno has done everything that the Padres have asked of him, from drills early in Spring Training to his bullpen sessions to consistently getting hitters out in games.
To date, closer Heath Bell and Cla Meredith are the only locks to be a part of the seven-man bullpen. Could Moreno be the third?
"He's been very consistent from Day 1, early on from his side sessions, batting practice; we evaluate all these things," Black said. "He's pitched as well as anyone in this camp. His performance has shown that, too."
Not bad for a late bloomer who, before last season, hadn't pitched a single inning above the Double-A level and as recently as 2007 was pitching in the Mexican Pacific League. Previously, he had pitched in the Rangers and Phillies organizations.
"He has thrown well all spring and is certainly under strong consideration to break with us," San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said. "He has shown velocity in the low 90s with a plus breaking ball and changeup. He's been our most consistent reliever this spring."
Moreno, a right-hander, started last season with Double-A San Antonio and posted a 2.95 ERA in 15 games before being promoted to Triple-A Portland. With the Beavers, Moreno was 5-6 with a 4.35 ERA in 45 games with 47 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings.
Moreno offers a fastball-slider combination with a twist. His slider has cutter-like action to it, with varying degrees of break that he can control depending on the hitter as well as the situation.
"He can cut the ball and turn it into a slider. He can vary the break on the slider, cutter, make it bigger. He has a nice feel," said Black, who likes Moreno's ability to throw a changeup to left-handed batters.
"He can shorten the break or turn it into a big break, which is great. He just determines the break."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.