Hatcher battles pesky squirrel in bullpen
Trying to remove critter, Padres' catcher endures bite on thumb
DENVER -- Justin Hatcher would do just about anything for the Padres' relievers, though his limits were severely put to the test Saturday at Coors Field.
Hatcher, the Padres' bullpen catcher, got all he could handle from a pesky squirrel that somehow got into the bullpen area beyond the wall in right-center field early in Saturday's eventual 9-7 victory over the Rockies.
Hatcher figured the smart thing to do would be to scoop it up and move it to a safer area, like out beyond the fence in center field where Evergreen trees grow.
Only it didn't work out that way.
"He scared Mike [relief pitcher Mike Adams] and then he ran up [bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds'] leg," Hatcher said. "So I thought that it would be fun to catch him.
"I picked him up and I really thought he was going to be nice. Then, all of a sudden ... he bit me. It even broke skin."
Said Adams, who Hatcher said provided no help through the ordeal: "The squirrel was just sort of hanging there from his thumb."
Hatcher eventually removed the squirrel with the assistance of a towel.
Not entirely knowing what to do next, Hatch worked his way to the visiting clubhouse at Coors Field through the tunnels below the grandstand. Akerfelds phoned ahead -- calling the training room to tell them Hatcher was on his way -- with a squirrel bite, of all things.
"At first, they thought I was joking," Hatcher said. "I went in and [Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson] cleaned it up. I guess there's a chance of rabies, so I have to watch it for the next 10 hours. I think it will be fine."
Hatcher eventually returned to the bullpen, where everyone resumed their normal routine. Adams went on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, picking up his second victory as Brad Hawpe hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning.
Had it been Adams who was the one to initially come in contact with the squirrel -- well, who knows?
"I guess it was better me than the others," Hatcher said.
Bell closes comeback with 100th career save
DENVER -- Three batters, three outs, and it was a milestone save for Padres closer Heath Bell on Saturday, though his moment in the limelight was probably overshadowed.
Teammate Brad Hawpe hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning to sink his former team for a 9-7 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field.
That was perfectly fine with Bell, who said he probably won't really enjoy the 100th save of his Major League career until after the season.
"I'll smile tonight, but tomorrow is a new day," Bell said.
Bell, who tied former teammate and Major League career saves leader Trevor Hoffman for the franchise record with 41 consecutive saves earlier this month, did acknowledge the milestone briefly, as he thanked manager Bud Black, pitching coach Darren Balsley and bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds.
"Those three guys made a huge difference to me in my career," Bell said.
A two-time All-Star closer, Bell has earned all 100 of his saves with the Padres. Two came in 2007 while setting up Hoffman, before 42 in '09 in his first season as a full-time closer and 47 more last season.
Bell's save against the Rockies was his ninth of the season.
"He's been fantastic," Balsley said. "No one could ever fill Trevor's shoes, but Heath has stepped in and done a very nice job for us."
Maybin proving Padres' inclinations correct
DENVER -- Cameron Maybin was nearing the end of his postgame session with reporters on Friday when he tried, in vain, to diffuse some talk of his recent hot spell at the plate.
"That won't happen every night," Maybin cautioned.
The Padres realize that the 24-year-old Maybin won't have four hits every night, as he had in Wednesday's victory in Milwaukee and again during Friday's 12-7 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.
They're not expecting as much, though more games where Maybin hits two home runs wouldn't be turned away, either.
"He's a very talented athlete," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We think where he is in his career, at 24 years old, that he has all the makings of a very good, all-around player.
"The speed element, the power, [playing a] premium defense position -- he's got a lot going in his direction."
Maybin became the first Padres player to have consecutive four-hit games since Reggie Sanders July 2-3 of 1999.
Better yet, Maybin's second-inning single on Saturday was his 10th hit in his past 13 at-bats as he raised his average to .279, the highest it has been since the second day of the season.
The Padres, who traded relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica to the Marlins to land Maybin in November, think they have their center fielder of the future, a player who can patrol the vast grass at PETCO Park and contribute with the bat with raw power to all fields.
"We gave him every indication that we want him to be a long-term fit here," Black said.
Maybin has worked closely with Padres hitting coach Randy Ready on staying back and letting the ball travel deeper in the strike zone. The result? Maybin has been using the entire field more instead of pulling the ball.
"It's just the approach. I was hitting a lot of balls to the left side, so we decided to back it up and try to use the whole field more," Maybin said. "I trust my hands and trust my ability."
Hundley runs, throws, catches bullpen session
DENVER -- Nick Hundley played catch Saturday morning at Coors Field and caught a bullpen session, which, under ordinary circumstances, might not sound like anything more than a typical day for the Padres' catcher.
But Hundley, stuck on the 15-day disabled list since May 6 with a strained right oblique, felt as if he passed a significant hurdle on the way back toward rejoining his teammates on the 25-man active roster.
Hundley played catch for the first time since May 4 and caught for Tim Stauffer. He even ran in the outfield three hours before the Padres played the Rockies in the second game of a three-game series.
"It felt a little weird ... like I hadn't caught in a while," said Hundley, who suffered the injury taking a swing in a game against the Pirates on May 4. "It felt good, though."
Hundley was hopeful that he would be able to go through the same routine on Sunday. He's even optimistic that he'll be able to pick up a bat and take some practice swings in the next few days.
Hundley said he won't rush to get back, no matter how difficult it's been on him during his time on the disabled list. He knows there's a strong probability that he could have a relapse with the oblique if he is too aggressive too soon with his rehabilitation.
But that doesn't make sitting in the dugout and watching his teammates play any easier.
"Being on the DL is one of the worst things there is," Hundley said. "But you can't do anything about it. I want to make sure that when I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go."
Hundley will need a Minor League rehab stint before rejoining the Padres. That path has yet to be determined.
Padres hand out Minor League awards for April
DENVER -- The Padres announced their Minor League Players of the Month for April and, to no surprise, first baseman Anthony Rizzo of Triple-A Tucson was named the Offensive Player of the Month.
Rizzo, one of four players obtained in December from the Red Sox in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, hit .400 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 22 games for Tucson.
Keyvius Sampson, a right-handed pitcher for Class A Fort Wayne, was selected as the Pitcher of the Month after going 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts. Sampson was a Padres fourth-round choice in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Rico Noel, an outfielder with Class A Lake Elsinore, was selected Base Runner of the Month after he stole nine bases while being caught once during the first month of the season.
Infielder Buster Weems of Double-A San Antonio was named the Defensive Player of the Month. Weeks entered the season with a reputation as being a very good defensive shortstop before raising his offense game in April, hitting .324.