PEORIA, Ariz. -- The first medical casualty of spring for the Padres doesn't appear to be much of a casualty at all.

San Diego manager Bud Black said that the team will be "slowing down" outfielder Chris Denorfia for a few days because of a sore lower back.

Denorfia was still able to play catch and hit some in the cage but he didn't take batting practice on the field with the rest of his teammates.

The Padres position players will take live batting practice on the field -- facing pitchers and not coaches -- starting Monday. If Denorfia misses a day or two, it doesn't figure to set him back much.

"We're confident that he's going to be fine," Black said.

The Padres went the entire first week of camp without so much as a scratch or anyone reporting soreness in camp. Black said Saturday players don't usually start to report such soreness until the second or third week of camp. So far, it's been relatively quiet.

Decker working on new approach

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Never shy about taking a walk, Padres Minor League outfielder Jaff Decker has posted an on-base percentage of .513, .442, .374 and .373 in his first few seasons in the organization.

This spring, though, Decker is taking a far different approach following a season where he hit .236 for Double-A San Antonio.

"I'm really working hard this year on not being passive at the plate, swinging at more pitches in more hitters' counts and not letting that pitch go by you," Decker said.

Decker actually started this new approach during the Texas League playoffs where he hit three home runs as the Missions ran off with the league championship. He then hit .289 during the Arizona Fall League.

Decker, 22, is ready to turn the page from a disappointing season, even though the Missions won 100 games and claimed the league title.

"I started off the year pretty well then hit a couple of slumps. I don't want to make excuses, but I felt that I put good swings on the ball and some things weren't falling in," Decker said. "Now, I'm looking to come out and put some swings on the ball."

There were some things to like about Decker's season with the Missions. He had 19 home runs and 92 RBIs with 103 walks. He also had 145 strikeouts in a season where he had 613 plate appearances.

Decker figures get the chance to implement his new approach in April when he likely will open the season with San Antonio.

Davis finds advantage with hockey-style catcher's mask

PEORIA, Ariz. -- During a catching drill this week, the seven catchers in the Padres camp had to field popups fired out of a small pitching machine.

One of the first rules of thumb for a catcher is to turn around with his back to the pitcher as the ball tends to drift back to the infield. Also, a catcher typically discards his mask quickly, removing it and casting it to the side.

For Brad Davis, one of five new catchers in camp, that's not an option as he's wearing a hockey-style mask that essentially protects his entire head. It's only removed for rare circumstances.

"I was always anti-hockey mask, but then you take a few shots to the ear and then you decide to give it a shot," said Davis, who signed a Minor League deal with the team in the winter.

"I used to wear the normal catcher's mask, but I got trucked at the plate pretty good, took an elbow to the ear and had my ear torn up pretty good. I took a backswing that caught me in the ear before, too."

Davis, who spent the last eight seasons in the Marlins' system, started wearing the hockey-style mask about six years ago. Now he can't imagine catching without it.

"I started wearing it more for protection because the side of your face is more exposed," he said. "I got used to it and you actually get better vision out of it because the bars are closer to your face."