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02/22/08 10:42 PM ET
Minor League Report: Matt Antonelli
McAnulty gets serious about conditioning; LeBlanc impresses
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- A year after the Padres asked Matt Antonelli to switch positions, they have restrained themselves from doing the very same thing again. The Padres say they are committed to letting Antonelli, the Padres' first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Wake Forest, develop as a second baseman and not ask him to make the move into the outfield. That doesn't mean the team isn't ruling out a move in the future. But for now, Antonelli -- who was drafted as a third baseman -- is still an infielder. Last month, Antonelli was at PETCO Park in San Diego along with another top prospect -- Chase Headley -- to see how they looked in the outfield. Antonelli took balls in the infield but the Padres also wanted to see him catch fly balls. "I've never played outfield regularly," Antonelli told reporters last month. "I have taken more balls in the outfield in the last two days than I've taken in my life. They just called me and said we'd like to get a look at you in center." The Padres traded for eight-time Gold Glove winner Jim Edmonds during the offseason to play center field. But down the road, Antonelli could get another look there. "If we wanted to go that route, it could happen," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Everyday center fielders don't come around every year." Last chance? It's been suggested that this might be the last chance for outfielder Paul McAnulty to stick in San Diego. McAnulty, who has played in 58 games for the Padres over the last three seasons, is out of Minor League options. The left-handed-hitting McAnulty had trouble with a nagging knee injury last season at Triple-A Portland, where he hit .262. But McAnulty showed up in Peoria early to continue a rigorous offseason conditioning program that saw him drop 20 pounds thanks in large part to a three-a-day workout plan for six days a week. "It's going to show," said McAnulty, a career .301 hitter in the Minor Leagues, of his hard work. "My main goal was to get back to 100 percent. I feel I can help this club tremendously." One good pitch: Apparently, left-handed pitcher Wade LeBlanc has just that -- and possibly even more, which is why Black has mentioned his name as a potential candidate for the No. 5 starter spot in the rotation.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.