SAN DIEGO -- New Padres relief pitcher Andrew Cashner has one goal for the 2012 season: "I want to stay healthy."

Cashner, obtained last month from the Cubs in the deal that sent first baseman Anthony Rizzo to Chicago, said during Saturday's FanFest at Petco Park that he has "never been more excited to start the season."

That makes perfect sense after Cashner missed most of last season with a rotator cuff issue. He was limited to 10 2/3 innings -- 5 1/3 innings in April and 5 1/3 more innings in September.

"Last year ... it was what it was," said Cashner, who is expected to serve as the Padres' eighth-inning specialist, setting up new closer Huston Street. "I've really put in a lot of work during the offseason, getting ready."

Cashner, who opened last season as the Cubs' fifth starter, said that he would like to return to starting again, but that his primary goal in 2012 is being healthy and able to contribute.

"Down the road, I do want to start and they've [the Padres] told me I'll get that chance," he said. "But now, I just want to stay healthy and pitch."

Headley ready to be Padres' big bat

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego third baseman Chase Headley said Saturday that he's ready to assume the role of being a run producer for the Padres in 2012.

The Padres certainly need it.

The Padres are coming off a season where they ranked 28th out of 30 Major League teams in runs and on-base percentage and 29th in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

Headley, who was limited to 439 plate appearances after breaking a finger on Aug. 6, said that he would like to have more than the four home runs he had a year ago, though there are other ways to knock in runs.

"I hope that four home runs was just a strange year for me," Headley said. "I feel like I should hit more than that and I will hit more than that.

"I think it's picking spots to do a little more damage and being aggressive with guys in scoring position."

Headley returned from the disabled list in time to play in six games in the final week of the season. He hit .289 with a .374 on-base percentage and 44 RBIs in 113 games.

Having a more balanced lineup around him, including newcomers left fielder Carlos Quentin and first baseman Yonder Alonso, could certainly help Headley's chances to drive in more runs.

Alonso feels at home among Hurricanes

SAN DIEGO -- There can be something disrupting and halting about being traded from the only organization you've ever known, but Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso felt right at home after he was traded to San Diego from Cincinnati in December.

Alonso, who played at the University of Miami from 2006-08, joined a Padres organization that had four former Hurricanes teammates: outfielder Blake Tekotte, who made his Major League debut in 2011 and catchers Eddy Rodriguez, Jason Hagerty and Yasmani Grandal.

"It feels like I'm home because all of those guys are already here," Alonso said Saturday during FanFest. "For me, it feels like college all over again except that we're all now more mature and wiser."

Adding to the family feel is that Alonso and Rodriguez were best friends at Coral Gables High, which is located a handful of miles from the University of Miami campus.

Thousands 'talking baseball' at Padres FanFest

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres had between 17-18,000 fans attend FanFest on Saturday at Petco Park thanks to an early surge of fans that were waiting for the gates to open in the morning.

Over 20 current players attended the event and took part in autograph sessions as well as question and answer segments. Manager Bud Black was on hand to meet fans as well.

"Today was great. Today is a great kickoff to the baseball season where everyone was talking baseball," said Padres team president and COO Tom Garfinkel. "To see thousands of fans out here talking baseball makes me wish Opening Day was tomorrow."

Third baseman Chase Headley presided over a hitting clinic while Clayton Richard did the same for a pitching clinic on the field.

One change this year was moving the Padres Garage Sale to the actual field itself, where merchandise like one-of-a-kind autographed jerseys, game-used equipment and clubhouse memorabilia were sold to raise over $80,000 to benefit the Padres Foundation.