ST. LOUIS -- In a sea of red Thursday, there was a sliver of blue -- make that a section of blue, as a gathering of Padres fans took in Opening Day at Busch Stadium.
Those fans, all 15 of them, had one thing in common -- they were the family of outfielder rookie Cedric Hunter, who scored a run in the Padres' 5-3 victory over the Cardinals in 11 innings.
You can bet that group of family, all who made the trip from Georgia -- Decatur and also Atlanta -- to see Hunter, made plenty of noise when Hunter scored the fifth run as part of a two-run 11th inning.
"I'm glad I have family who support me like they do," said Hunter, a surprise addition to the 25-man roster last week.
Hunter made the team as a fifth outfielder when it became apparent that utilityman Eric Patterson was headed to the disabled list to open the regular season with a strained left hamstring.
Hunter, a third-round Draft pick of the Padres in 2006, made sure his Major League debut was a good one, as he scored from second base on Nick Hundley's single up the middle in the 11th inning.
"It was great, it's what you wait for all your life," Hunter said of his debut. "It feels great to help the team win."
Abbamondi enjoys warm reunion in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS -- John Abbamondi hadn't spent a whole lot of time in the visiting dugout at Busch Stadium before Thursday.
Then again, he never had a reason to.
Abbamondi, in his first year as the Padres' vice president, strategy and business analysis, spent the previous three seasons as an assistant general manager of the Cardinals.
Padres 5, Cardinals 3 (11 inn.)
WP: Neshek LP: Augenstein SV: Bell
In December, the Padres hired him away from the Cardinals, turning Opening Day into a homecoming of sorts for Abbamondi.
"Personally, it's a little bit of a strange feeling being back here again at this ballpark and watching a team that I knew very well," Abbamondi said.
"I've got a lot of friends in uniform and in the front office. It's been neat to catch up with some people today."
In changing teams, Abbamondi also changed jobs -- he's now out of baseball operations and is working on the business side of things with the Padres, dealing with a little bit of everything, from ticketing to concessions and everything in between.
"It's been a really good transition. There are a lot of good people in the front office who work really well together. So it's been a pretty seamless transition as far as that goes," Abbamondi said.
"The way we're structured, we've got a lot of people working on a lot of projects. We tend to work as a team. It's run the gamut."
That part of the job has gone well for Abbamondi, and he hasn't had to divorce himself completely from the baseball operations side.
"It's been a lot to learn, but [general manager Jed Hoyer] and those guys have been nice to let me stick my nose around baseball ops, so that's been nice," he said. "I think that I would be lying if I said I didn't miss this aspect of it."
As for who Abbamondi is pulling for this week, that's easy enough.
"I hope [the Padres] take all three games from them ... and then [the Cardinals] do well from here on out," Abbamondi said.
Padres encouraged by Latos' throwing session
ST. LOUIS -- Pitcher Mat Latos said he felt fine after throwing off the mound Thursday, three hours before the Padres faced the Cardinals on Opening Day.
Manager Bud Black said the right-hander looked fine in his first time throwing off a mound in 10 days.
In other words, the bursitis that landed Latos on the disabled list to start the season is all but in the rearview mirror now.
"From what I saw, he looked fine and he looked healthy," Black said.
Black indicated that Latos will throw a light side session on Saturday in St. Louis. If he comes out of that feeling fine, Latos will then fly to the team's Spring Training facility in Arizona on Sunday.
Latos will then pitch in a Minor League game on Monday. The Padres will determine his next move after that.
Black said Wednesday that Latos, who made his last spring appearance on March 21, will need a Minor League rehabilitation assignment before being activated and placed into San Diego's starting rotation.
Luebke taking different approach in bullpen role
ST. LOUIS -- Left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke is one of four Padres players who made his first Opening Day roster, with the others being outfielder Cedric Hunter and pitchers Samuel Deduno and Ernesto Frieri.
"I'm looking forward to it," Luebke said.
If that wasn't enough to think about Thursday, then consider the different approach that Luebke, who has primarily been a starting pitcher during his Minor League career, has had to make pitching in relief.
Luebke is the lone left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, though he's far from being just a left-handed specialist, like Joe Thatcher, who is on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder, was last season.
Instead, Luebke is capable of pitching in short or long relief. In fact, he did both during Spring Training.
The biggest difference between starting and pitching in relief?
"I'm now trying to get an out with every pitch I throw," Luebke said. "When you start, you can afford to try and set guys up a little more. But being a reliever, you're trying to execute every pitch every time."
Luebke was 2-0 with a 4.19 ERA in eight appearances this spring. He pitched four or more innings twice in the spring before the team made the decision to look at him in a relief role. Luebke's last three outings were one inning each.
He didn't allow a run in any of those last three appearances.