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03/18/08 8:39 PM ET

Padres return Rule 5 pick, cut 17

Gardner sent back to Yankees; Gonzalez reassigned to Minors

Peoria, Ariz. -- At the end of back-to-back extended trips to China and Tucson, Ariz., the Padres made a total of 17 roster moves Tuesday, cutting the number of players in their big league camp down to 42.

Noteworthy among the moves was the decision to reassign infielder Edgar Gonzalez to Minor League camp and to outright right-handed pitcher Mike Gardner, a Rule 5 Draft pick who will go back to the Yankees organization.

Gonzalez, the 29-year-old older brother of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, had a strong spring, hitting .323 (10-for-31) with a homer and eight RBIs. He has played Minor League ball with the Rays, Rangers, Nationals, Marlins and Cardinals organizations, and has had his best success at the Triple-A level, hitting .354 in 23 games at New Orleans in '05, .392 in 46 games at Albuquerque in '06 and .308 in a full season of 126 games at Memphis in '07.

Gardner was outrighted back to Triple-A Scranton in the Yankees system. As a Rule 5 Draft pick, he had to be offered back to the Yankees if he didn't make the Padres' Major League roster.

The 26-year-old Gardner struggled in six Cactus League relief appearances for the Padres, posting a 1-0 record and a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 innings. He spent his entire five-year Minor League career in the Yankees organization, establishing a 12-14 record with a 2.88 ERA and 10 saves in 173 games, all but three coming out of the 'pen. He spent all of '07 at Double-A Trenton.

The Padres also reassigned right-handed pitcher Paul Abraham, left-handed pitchers Arturo Lopez and Wade LeBlanc, infielders Marshall McDougall and Matt Antonelli, outfielders Mike Baxter, Will Venable, Drew Macias and Vincent Sinisi and catchers Nick Hundley and Jose Lobaton.

Four players were optioned to the Minors, including catcher Colt Morton and right-handed pitcher Mauro Zarate to Triple-A Portland, right-handed pitcher Ernesto Frieri to Double-A San Antonio and right-handed pitcher Wilton Lopez to Class A Lake Elsinore.

Of the 42 players remaining in big league camp, 35 are on the Padres' 40-man roster and seven are non-roster invitees.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.